Sunday, July 3, 2016

When noon is blazing on the town / Robert Hillyer

from Days and Seasons


When noon is blazing on the town,
The fields are loud with droning flies,
The people pull their curtains down,
And all the houses shut their eyes.

The palm leaf drops from your mother's hand
And she dozes there in a darkened room.
Outside there is silence on the land,
And only poppies dare to bloom.

Open the door and steal away
Through grain and briar shoulder high,
There are secrets hid in the heart of day,
In the hush and slumber of July.

Your face will burn a fiery red,
Your feet will drag through dusty flame,
Your brain turn molten in your head,
And you will wish you never came.

O never mind, go on, go on,—
There is a brook where willows lean;
To weave deep caverns from the sun,
And there the grass grows cool and green.

And there is one as cool as grass,
Lying beneath the willow tree,
Counting the dragon flies that pass,
And talking to the humble bee.

She has not stirred since morning came,
She does not know how in the town
The earth shakes dizzily with flame,
And all the curtains are drawn down.

Sit down beside her; she can tell
The strangest secrets you would hear,
And cool as water in a well,
Her words flow down upon your ear….

She speaks no more, but in your hair
Her fingers soft as lullabies
Fold up your senses unaware,
Into a poppy paradise.

And when you wake, the evening mist
Is rising up to float the hill,
And you will say, "The mouth I kissed,
The voice I heard … a dream … but still

"The grass is matted where she lay,
I feel her fingers in my hair"….
But your lamp is bright across the way,
And your mother knits in the rocking chair.

Robert Silliman Hillyer (1895-1961), 1919
from The Five Books of Youth, 1920

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada and the United States]

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