...it's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there...

September 29, 2004

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

No commentary is necessary on this one. It's just a really fine poem, by Alice Corbin Henderson (1881 - 1949). Enjoy:

Muy Vieja Mexicana

I've seen her pass with eyes upon the road --
An old bent woman in a bronze-black shawl,
With skin as dried and wrinkled as a mummy's,
As brown as a cigar-box, and her voice
Like the low vibrant strings of a guitar.
And I have fancied from the girls about
What she was at their age, what they will be
When they are old as she. But now she sits
And smokes away each night till dawn comes round,
Thinking, beside the pinyons' flame, of days
Long past and gone, when she was young -- content
To be no longer young, her epic done:

         For a woman has work and much to do,
         And it's good at the last to know it's through,
         And still have time to sit alone,
         To have some time you can call your own.
         It's good at the last to know your mind
         And travel the paths that you traveled blind,
         To see each turn and even make
         Trips in the byways you did not take --
         But that, `por Dios', is over and done,
         It's pleasanter now in the way we've come;
         It's good to smoke and none to say
         What's to be done on the coming day,
         No mouths to feed or coat to mend,
         And none to call till the last long end.
         Though one have sons and friends of one's own,
         It's better at last to live alone.
         For a man must think of food to buy,
         And a woman's thoughts may be wild and high;
         But when she is young she must curb her pride,
         And her heart is tamed for the child at her side.
         But when she is old her thoughts may go
         Wherever they will, and none to know.
         And night is the time to think and dream,
         And not to get up with the dawn's first gleam;
         Night is the time to laugh or weep,
         And when dawn comes it is time to sleep . . .

When it's all over and there's none to care,
I mean to be like her and take my share
Of comfort when the long day's done,
And smoke away the nights, and see the sun
Far off, a shrivelled orange in a sky gone black,
Through eyes that open inward and look back.

Posted by annika, Sep. 29, 2004 |
Rubric: Poetry


She makes me sleepy.

Posted by: Casca on Sep. 29, 2004

Enjoyable poem. Why do I have to be old to live like that? ...I guess because otherwise you'd have to live alone. Takin' it easy ain't easy to live with.

Posted by: Scof on Sep. 30, 2004

You know, Annika, this is the first selection of yours that made me wince. It's not the poem -- it's the presumptuousness of a well-intentioned but affluent white woman that bothers me... doesn't the poem seem just a little patronizing to you?

Or maybe the PC police have taken over my mind for the umpteenth time!

Posted by: Hugo on Sep. 30, 2004

Hugo, it helps if you picture Joe Don Baker as the little old lady.

Posted by: Ted on Sep. 30, 2004

Joe Don Baker as a shrivelled orange?

Posted by: Hugo on Sep. 30, 2004

Hugo, i'm surprised at you. It's art. The poem was written long before PC became the scourge of art that it is now. If poets throughout history followed PC rules like the one that says you can't write about a hispanic if you yourself are not hispanic, we'd be deprived of some of the greatest art. Byron couldn't write Don Juan for example.

Posted by: annika on Sep. 30, 2004

Joe Don Baker would play the sourest, thickest-skinned, gauranteed-to-squirt-in-your-eye orange you ever saw, even shriveled.

Posted by: Ted on Oct. 1, 2004

Annika, I think what gets me is the presumptuousness of knowing what someone so radically different from you is thinking -- the poet assumes a very intimate knowledge of her subject's inner life.

But you're right. I do have an ahistorical PC lens. I still love your poetry Wednesdays, Annie dear, and am grateful that you inspired my Thursdays!

Posted by: Hugo on Oct. 1, 2004

"the presumptuousness of knowing what someone so radically different from you is thinking"

We're all human beings, we all share the same fate, so how different are we? Besides poetry isn't journalism.

Posted by: Scof on Oct. 1, 2004

poetry is more truthful, scof

Posted by: annika on Oct. 1, 2004

Hello folks nice blog youre running

Posted by: lolita on Jan. 19, 2005