Friday Poem

The Sleepers -excerpt

Now I tell what my mother told me today as we sat at
        dinner together,
Of when she was a nearly grown girl living home with her
        parents on the old homestead.

A red squaw came one breakfast-time to the old homestead,
On her back she carried a bundle of rushes for
        rush-bottoming chairs;
Her hair straight shiny coarse black and profuse
        half-enveloped her face,
Her step was free and elastic . . . . her voice sounded
        exquisitely as she spoke.

My mother looked in delight and amazement at the stranger,
She looked at the beauty of her tall-borne face and full and
        pliant limbs,
The more she looked upon her she loved her,

Never before had she seen such wonderful beauty and purity;
She made her sit on a bench by the jamb of the fireplace . . . .
        she cooked food for her,
She had no work to give her but she gave her remembrance
        and fondness.

The red squaw staid all the forenoon, and toward the middle
        of the afternoon she went away;
O my mother was loth to have her go away,
All the week she thought of her . . . . she watched for her
        many a month,
She remembered her many a winter and many a summer,
But the red squaw never came nor was heard of there again.

Walt Whitman
from The Sleepers