The Basket

The inkstand is full of ink, and the paper lies
White and unspotted,
In the round of light thrown by a candle. Puffs of darkness
Sweep into
The corners, and keep rolling through the room behind his chair. The
Is silver and pearl, for the night is liquid with moonlight.
See how the roof glitters, like ice!
Over there, a slice of yellow cuts into the silver-blue,
And beside it stand
Two geraniums, purple because the light is silver-blue, to-night.

See! She is coming, the young woman with the bright hair.
She swings a basket as she walks, which she places on the sill,
Between the geranium stalks. He laughs, and crumples
His paper
As he leans forward to look. “The Basket Filled with
What a title for a book!
The bellying clouds swing over the housetops.

He has forgotten the woman in the room with the geraniums. He
Is beating

/> His brain, and in his eardrums hammers his heavy pulse. She
On the window-sill, with the basket in her lap. And tap! She
Cracks a nut.
And tap! Another. Tap! Tap! Tap! The
Shells ricochet upon the roof,
And get into the gutters, and bounce over the edge and disappear.
“It is very queer,” thinks Peter, “the basket was
Empty, I’m sure.
How could nuts appear from the atmosphere?”
The silver-blue moonlight makes the geraniums purple,
And the roof glitters
Like ice.

Five o’clock. The geraniums are very
Gay in their crimson array.
The bellying clouds swing over the housetops, and over the roofs
Goes Peter
To pay his morning’s work with a holiday.
“Annette, it is I. Have you finished? Can
I come?”
Peter jumps through the window.
“Dear, are you alone?”
“Look, Peter, the dome of the tabernacle is done. This
Gold thread
Is so very high, I am glad it is morning, a starry sky would have
Seen me bankrupt. Sit down, now tell me, is your story
Going well?”
The golden dome glittered in the orange of the
Setting sun. On the walls,
At intervals, hung altar-cloths and chasubles, and copes, and stoles,
And coffin palls. All stiff with rich embroidery,

Stitched with
So much artistry, they seemed like spun and woven gems, or flower-buds
New-opened on their stems.

Annette looked at the geraniums, very red against the blue sky.
“No matter how I try, I cannot find any thread
Of such a red.
My bleeding hearts drip stuff muddy in comparison. Heigh-ho! See
My little
Pecking dove? I’m in love with my own temple. Only
That halo’s wrong.
The colour’s too strong, or not strong enough. I don’t
Know. My eyes
Are tired. Oh, Peter, don’t be so rough; it is valuable. I
Won’t do
Any more. I promise. You tyrannise, Dear,
That’s enough. Now sit down
And amuse me while I rest.”
The shadows of the geraniums creep over the floor,
And begin to climb
The opposite wall.

Peter watches her, fluid with fatigue, floating, and drifting,
And undulant in the orange glow. His senses flow towards
Where she lies supine and dreaming. Seeming drowned in
A golden halo.
The pungent smell of the geraniums is hard to bear.

He pushes against her knees, and brushes his lips across her languid
His lips are hot and speechless. He woos her, quivering,
And the room
Is filled with shadows, for the sun has set. But she
Only understands
The ways of a needle through delicate stuffs, and the shock of one
On another. She does not see that this is the same, and
Querulously murmurs
His name.
“Peter, I don’t want it. I am tired.”
And he, the undesired, burns and is consumed.
There is a crescent moon on the rim of the sky.

“Go home, now, Peter. To-night is full
Moon. I must be alone.”
“How soon the moon is full again! Annette,
Let me stay. Indeed, Dear Love,
I shall not go away. My God, but you keep me starved! You
‘No Entrance Here’, over all the doors. Is it not strange,
My Dear,
That loving, yet you deny me entrance everywhere. Would
Strike you blind, or, hating bonds as you do, why should I be denied
The rights of loving if I leave you free? You want the
Whole of me,
You pick my brains to rest you, but you give me not one heart-beat.
Oh, forgive me, Sweet! I suffer in my loving, and you
Know it. I cannot
Feed my life on being a poet. Let me stay.”
“As you please, poor Peter, but it will hurt me
If you do. It will
Crush your heart and squeeze the love out.”
He answered gruffly, “I know what I’m about.”
“Only remember one thing from to-night. My
Work is taxing and I must
Have sight! I MUST!”
The clear moon looks in between the geraniums. On
The wall,
The shadow of the man is divided from the shadow of the woman
By a silver thread.

They are eyes, hundreds of eyes, round like marbles! Unwinking,
For there
Are no lids. Blue, black, gray, and hazel, and the irises
Are cased
In the whites, and they glitter and spark under the moon. The
Is heaped with human eyes. She cracks off the whites
And throws them away.
They ricochet upon the roof, and get into the gutters, and bounce
Over the edge and disappear. But she is here, quietly
On the window-sill, eating human eyes.
The silver-blue moonlight makes the geraniums purple,
And the roof shines
Like ice.

How hot the sheets are! His skin is
Tormented with pricks,
And over him sticks, and never moves, an eye. It lights
The sky with blood,
And drips blood. And the drops sizzle on his bare skin,
And he smells them
Burning in, and branding his body with the name “Annette”.
The blood-red sky is outside his window now. Is
It blood or fire?
Merciful God! Fire! And his heart wrenches
And pounds “Annette!”
The lead of the roof is scorching, he ricochets,
Gets to the edge,
Bounces over and disappears.
The bellying clouds are red as they swing over
The housetops.

The air is of silver and pearl, for the night is
Liquid with moonlight.
How the ruin glistens, like a palace of ice! Only two
Black holes swallow
The brilliance of the moon. Deflowered windows, sockets
Without sight.
A man stands before the house. He sees
The silver-blue moonlight,
And set in it, over his head, staring and flickering, eyes of geranium


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The Basket