Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
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Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
 
Diary Written on Peony Petals
By Grace Hazard Conkling
 
I
WHEN the wind is soft,
Amigo,
Softer than the mittens on the magnolia buds,
When crocuses have dissolved into air again
And the grass is lonely,        5
I should like to hear you say,
“Let’s talk.”
I should like to be transfixed by your blue gaze
And to defy your challenge.
 
Amiga mio,        10
When the magnolia is quite out
You may come to see me.
It will make your eyes more blue—
The heaped white tree;
At the same time it may help me to resist        15
Your impudent charm.
 
II
It is under your trees I would walk, my friend;
Under your black pines,
Looking out at summer in the meadows
As at a pantomime.        20
Summer is all very well
For a golden fringe around your forest …
 
Tell the dark trees to expect me
Afterward …
If I utter human words of longing        25
They will not heed me.
Inscrutable dreamers above their indigo shadows,
I shall not trouble them
But they will know I am there.
 
III
The garden wrestling with dusk
        30
Flings out a gleaming arm
To fend off shadows …
 
“Night!” she cries,
“Why take away my white foxgloves
When you have the stars?”        35
 
I have shining thoughts
That resent darkness.
When foxgloves give up their radiance,
When lilies lean lower under weight of shadows,
I think of you …        40
My thoughts hold the last light.
 
“Night!” I cry,
“Why claim my love-thoughts
When you have the moon?”
 
IV
Now these are dear to me:
        45
Hyacinth with petal-points curled back,
Twigs of willow,
Thin twisting smoke of green
Along the poplars,
Trillium from the tall ravine …        50
 
Hyacinth you broke into separate stars
Willow you plaited into a fillet for my head
Poplar-leaves you crushed for their spring-breath
Trillium you read aloud to me
Like a poem        55
 
V
It is because I am afraid of my heart
That I write about clouds and flowers;
It is because no poem will hold you
That I occupy my mind with rhymes and patterns.
 
VI
Where am I going?
        60
  I am going down the garden to the circle of the seven rose-trees, wherein I shall stand very still and close my eyes and tell myself roses do not exist.
 
What shall I be doing this afternoon?
  I shall be exchanging words with you through an hour cool like green shadow … even words and well-chosen … words of soft color and of pleasing shape … to help me try to believe you do not love me.
 
VII
I have come back to the dusk
And your flowers in the dusk.        65
Shadows hide them
But I know they are crimson.
I can lose my thoughts among satin petals
The color of wine.
 
Home to the dusk        70
And the sense of you in the dusk …
Distance withholding you … bringing you near …
There is crimson
At the heart of this darkness.
If you were with me        75
We should need no light
But peonies.
 
VIII
On your way to the carnival in my heart
You kissed my lips …
 
The whole sea plunged …        80
Endlessly it poured
In green and shuddering columns past my spirit,
Drowning what I had thought
Myself.
I felt the great waters possess me;        85
They followed my veins
As they flow through the wavering anemone
Far down the salt pool …
Afterward I remembered
How I swayed and swayed in the strange light,        90
But you did not let me fall.
 
IX
Fold down your love closely about me
Like petals of a dark rose;
Hide me in the wonder of it
As in the golden core of a rose …        95
 
Wrapped in your proud tenderness,
Petal with petal softly interwoven,
How I shall sing and sing,
Though none may hear!
Yet I shall be heard …        100
The stirring of wings in your heart
Will be my dreaming,
And your voice uttering yourself
Will be my voice
Forever.        105
 
 
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