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.
 
The Day That Was That Day!
By Amy Lowell
 
The wind rose, and the wind fell,
And the day that was that day
Floated under a high Heaven.
 
“Home! Home! Home!”
Sang a robin in a spice-bush.        5
“Sun on a roof-tree! Sun on a roof-tree!”
Rang thin clouds
In a chord of silver across a placid sky.
 
Rachel Gibbs stepped up the path
To pass the time of day        10
With Haywood Green’s Minnie.
“My, ef she ain’t shut the door!
An’ all the breeze this side the house too.
She must like to stew.
Minnie,        15
Minnie,
You ain’t gone out have yer?
I’ll skin my knuckles ef I knock agin.
I wonder did she lock the door—
Well, I never!        20
Have you gone hard o’ hearin’?
Have you—
Minnie, child, what’s the matter?
Why do you look like that?
What you doin’?        25
Speak, I tell yer!
What you hidin’ that cup for?
God A’mighty, girl, what you doin’ with wood-alcohol
In a drinkin’-cup?
Here give it ter me,        30
An’ I’ll set it on the table.
Set down, Minnie dear,
Set right here in the rocker
An’ tell me
What ails yer to be wantin’        35
To drink stuff like that?
There, there, you poor lamb.
Don’t look so scared.
Just tell me all about it,
An’ ease your heart.        40
Minnie, I’ll have to shake yer
Ef you don’t stop starin’
In that dretful way.
Poor Dear,
You just lay your head up agin me        45
An’ let me soothe yer.
Poor little thing.
Poor little thing.”
 
“Don’t, don’t, Rachel,
I can’t bear it.        50
I’m a wicked woman,
But I jest couldn’t stand no more.”
 
“No more o’ what?
Ain’t yer Pa good to yer?
What’s come over yer, Minnie?        55
My! I’m jest as sorry as I can be.”
 
“Oh, it ain’t nothin’ like that.
An’ don’t be so good to me,
You’ll make me want to cry agin,
An’ I can’t cry.        60
I’m all dried up,
An’ it’s like squeezin’ my heart sick
To want to cry, an’ can’t.”
 
“But what is it?
Ain’t yer never goin’ ter tell me?”        65
 
“Why there ain’t nothin’ to tell
’Cept that I’m tired.”
 
“Now, look-a-here, Minnie,
No one don’t drink poison jest ’cause they’re tired.”
 
“I didn’t drink it, as it happens.”        70
 
“No, you didn’t, ’cause I come in an’ stopped yer.
But I’m mighty afeered you would have.
Lord, it makes me shudder.”
 
“I guess yer right,
I would have.        75
An’ I wish you’d ha’ let me be.
Now it’s all to do over agin,
An’ I don’t know as I’ll git the courage a second time.
I guess you ain’t never been right down tired, Rachel.”
 
“Well, never to the poison point, no, I haven’t.        80
But what’s gone wrong to wear yer out so?”
 
“The cat’s sick.”
 
“Minnie Green, was you takin’ poison
’Cause you got a sick cat?
That’s down-right foolishness.”        85
 
“Yes, it does sound so.
But I couldn’t face nussin’ her.
Look here, Rachel,
I may be foolish, or mad, or jest plain bad,
But I couldn’t stan’ another thing.        90
I’m all fretted now
An’ more’s one too many.
I can’t go on!
Oh, God! I can’t go on!
I ain’t got no more’n most women,        95
I know that,
But I fuss a lot more.
There’s al’ays the same things
Goin’ roun’ like the spokes to a cart-wheel,
Ef one ain’t a-top it’s another,        100
An’ the next comin’ up all th’ time.
It’s breakfast, an’ dinner, an’ supper,
Every day.
An’ the same dishes to wash.
I hate them dishes.        105
I smashed a plate yesterday
’Cause I couldn’t bear to see it
Settin’ on the sink waitin’ fer me.
An’ when I go up to make Father’s bed
I git seasick        110
Thinkin’ I’ll have to see that old check spread agin.
I’ve settled it,
An’ twitched it this way an’ that,
For thirty year,
An’ I hate the sight o’ the thing.        115
Sometimes I’ve set an hour on the stair
Ruther’n go in an’ touch it.
Oh, my God! Why couldn’t yer let me be?
Why’d you have to come interferin’?
Why?        120
Why?”
 
“Thank the Everlastin’ Mercy I did!
But, Minnie, how long’s this been goin’ on?
I never had no idea anythin’ was wrong.”
 
“I don’t know.        125
For ever an’ ever, I guess.
Rachel, you can’t think how hard it is for me
To set one foot after the other sometimes.
I hate lookin’ out th’ winder,
I’m so tired o’ seein’ the path to the barn.        130
An’ I can’t hardly bear
To hear Father talkin’ to the horses.
He loves ’em.
But I don’t love nothin’
’Cept the cat,        135
An’ cats is cold things to cling to,
An’ now mine’s sick!”
 
“Don’t take on so, Minnie.
She’ll get well.
There, you rest awhile;        140
You can tell me afterwards.”
 
A wind rose, and a wind fell,
And the day that was that day
Hung against a turning sun.
 
The robin sang “Home! Home! Home!”        145
In an up-and-down scale of small, bright notes.
The clouds rang silver arpeggios
Stretched across a pleasant sky.
 
“I wish I loved somethin’, Rachel.”
 
“Bless your heart, Child, don’t you love your father?”        150
 
“I suppose so. But he don’t mean nothin’ ter me.
He don’t say nothin’ I want ter hear.
My ears is achin’ to hear words,
Words like what’s written in books,
Words that would make me all bright like a spring day.        155
I lay awake nights
Thinkin’ o’ hearin’ things,
An’ seein’ things.
I’m awful tired o’ these hills,
They crowd in so.        160
Seems sometimes ef I could see the ocean,
Or a real big city,
’Twould help.
Kind o’ lay my eyes out straight for a while,
Everythin’s so short here        165
My eyes feels crinkled.
I love laylocks,
But I git so tired o’ watchin’
The leaves come and the flowers
Every year the same,        170
I’d like to root ’em up.
I’ve set an’ set in the kitchen evenin’s awful late,
Fer not bein’ able to git up and light the lamp
To go ter bed.
I’m all lead somehow.        175
I guess ef anybody did say anythin’
I’d be deaf
Jest with listenin’ so long.
I’m plumb tired out.”
 
“Look-a-here, Minnie,        180
Why don’t you go away
Fer a spell?”
 
“Me go away!
Oh, no, I couldn’t never do that.
I couldn’t go no place.        185
I can’t hardly git over to Dicksville
Fer my week with Aunt Abby now.
I’m all wrong away from home.
I can’t do nothin’!
Nothin’ at all.        190
I’m so awful tired.”
 
“Minnie, did you ever love anybody?
Any man, I mean?”
 
“No, Rachel, I never did.
I know that sounds queer, but it’s a fact.        195
I’ve tried to think I did,
But ’twarn’t true.
I hadn’t hardly no time for men-folks,
Mother was sick so long,
And then there was Father.        200
I never was much account with ’em anyway,
But I suppose I might ha’ had one
Ef I’d fixed my mind so.
But I al’ays waited.
An’ now I’m through waitin’,        205
I’m through waitin’ fer anythin’, Rachel.
It’s jest go, go, go,
With never no end,
And nothin’ done that ain’t to do over agin.
There now it’s six o’clock,        210
And I must be gittin’ supper.
You needn’t move that cup, Rachel.
I ain’t a-goin’ to touch it.
I’ll jest keep on now till the Lord takes me
An’ I only hope he’ll do it soon.”        215
 
The robin flew down from the spice-bush
And pecked about for worms.
The clouds were brazen trumpets
Tumbled along the edge of an apple-colored sky.
The shadow of the house        220
Fell across the path to the barn
Confusing it with the grass and the daisies.
 
A wind rose, and a wind fell,
And the day that was that day
Vanished in the darkness.        225
 
 
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