I have an old story to tell you-
Sit down beside me and listen.
My face is red with sorrow
And my breasts are made of straw.
I sit in the ladder-back chair
In a corner of the polished stage.
I have forgiven all the old actors for dying.
A new one comes on with the same lines,
Like large white growths, in his mouth.
The dancers come on from the wings,
I look up. The ceiling is pearly.
My thighs press, knotting in their treasure.
Upstage the bride falls in satin to the floor.
Beside her the tall hero in a red wool robe
Stirs the fire with his ivory cane.
The string quartet plays for itself,
Gently, gently, sleeves and waxy bows.
The legs of the dancers leap and catch.
I myself have little stiff legs,
My back is as straight as a book
And how I came to this place-
The little feverish roses,
The islands of olives and radishes,
The blissful pastimes of the parlor-
I’ll never know.