Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
Gypsy Mother
By Carl Sandburg
IN a hole-in-a-wall on Halsted Street sits a gypsy woman,
In a garish, gas-lit rendezvous, in a humpback higgling hole-in-a-wall.
The left hand is a tattler; stars and oaths and alphabets
Commit themselves and tell happenings gone, happenings to come, pathways of honest people, hypocrites.
“Long pointed fingers mean imagination; a star on the third finger says a black shadow walks near.”        5
Cross the gypsy’s hand with fifty cents, and she takes your left hand and reads how you shall be happy in love, or not, and whether you die rich, or not.
Signs outside the hole-in-a-wall say so, misspell the promises, scrawl the superior gypsy mysteries.
A red shawl on her shoulders falls with a fringe hem to a green skirt.
Chains of yellow beads sweep from her neck to her tawny hands.
Fifty springtimes must have kissed her mouth holding a calabash pipe.        10
She pulls slow contemplative puffs of smoke. She is a shape for ghosts of contemplation to sit around and ask why something cheap as happiness is here; and more besides than plain happiness, chapped lips, rough eyes, red shawl, gypsy perfection of offhand insolence.
She is thinking about somebody and something—the same as Whistler’s mother sat and thought about somebody and something.
In a hole-in-a-wall on Halsted Street are stars, oaths, alphabets.

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.