More of a Corpse Than a Woman

Give them my regards when you go to the school reunion;
and at the marriage-supper, say that I’m thinking of them.
They’ll remember my name; I went to the movies with that one,
feeling the weight of their death where she sat at my elbow;
she never said a word,
but all of them were heard.

All of them alike, expensive girls, the leaden friends:
one used to play the piano, one of them once wrote a sonnet,
one even seemed awakened enough to photograph wheatfields-
the dull girls with the educated minds and technical passions-
pure love was their employment,
they tried it for enjoyment.

Meet them at the boat: they’ve brought the souvenirs of boredom,
a seashell from the faltering monarchy;
the nose of a marble saint; and from the battlefield,
an empty shell divulged from a flower-bed.
The lady’s wealthy breath
perfumes the air with death.

The leaden lady faces the fine, voluptuous woman,
faces a rising world bearing its gifts in its hands.
Kiss her casual dreams upon the lips she kisses,
risen, she moves away; takes others; moves away.
Inadequate to love,
supposes she’s enough.

Give my regards to the well-protected woman,
I knew the ice-cream girl, we went to school together.
There’s something to bury, people, when you begin to bury.
When your women are ready and rich in their wish for the world,
destroy the leaden heart,
we’ve a new race to start.

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