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Poetry:  Natural History

 

Her skin has grown sheer as parchment,
dry as tombdust which, soon enough,
it will be.  Reduced in circumstance
from manor to flat, nevertheless,
she attends the evenings, and the ball,
to sit with others, like herself, reduced,
scratching with feebled hands
the last grains of lost dignity.
They dress in dated silk, tatty, and furs:
each has one, yet unsacrificed, and
hang upon themselves arsenals of wealth:
fire and gold, and stones of poison and blood.
Others speak of her with pity, and contempt:
she knows what they say.

But she has heard the song of the stones,
hers and theirs, sheer and thin:

"I was, in another time, young;
these stones are the tokens of other loves,
and place more exotic than
all of Spain.  I was young, and, in the evening,
heard, as you, the songs of silk, the sighs
of gold and stone."
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