Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
The Haunted Hat-shop
By Max Michelson
Madame. A beautiful woman, prospective purchaser. Her husband.

  The Woman.  [Before the mirror.]  No, no, thank you; this one
    Would cost too much. I will just—
    No, no; I can not—
[Stands before the mirror, fascinated.]
  A Voice.  From beneath the garland on your hair
    I drink your beauty.        5
    Your soul is clothed
    By your body.
    Your limbs are swathed and clothed.
    Your face is covered
    With shadows.        10
    Still I drink,
    I drink.
    My greedy soul sips the beauty
    Of each curve so delicate.
    My eyes are golden bees—        15
    Your mouth’s a rosy flower.
    Hold your body for your lover!
    I delve
    For dearer treasures.
    From your fortress threefold        20
    I will steal you for my own.
    Thinner, softer, dearer:
    I will shape your limbs for me,
    And coil and uncoil your speckled hair.
    Lightning rifts the face of the sky—        25
    Little glints between the shadows,
    Little holes in the face of the sky.
    Stars … Eyes …

[From some place behind the partition comes the peculiar giggle of a woman.]
  Madame.  This hat makes your face
    A flower.        30
  The Woman.  But I have told you
    I can not.  [Whispering is heard.]  What is this?
  A Voice.  Are you leaping
    Up a mountain?
    Are you skipping        35
    Down a valley?
    Are you hiding
    In my body?
    The horizon—
    Is it you?        40
    Flesh is weak wine
    For the heart.
  Madame.  This place is
    A little haunted.
    I—I am really a fairy—the witch-fairy Genève.        45
    You may own this hat
    If you lend me your soul
    For the time of a spell—
    For the time it takes me
    To boil the lizard’s liver.

[Giggling is heard again. The Woman makes for the door, beginning to take the hat off, nervously.]
  Madame.  [Very gently.]  I hold my souls very dear—
    I never hurt them;
    I never let harm happen to them.
    They are my children; dearer.
  The Woman.  [Angrily.]  No, no!

[Madame holds her arm and whispers long to her soothingly.]
  The Woman.  [Laughing nervously.]  No, no!

[Madame takes her arm. Partly drawn, she goes along. Madame whispers to her.]
  A Voice.  Hush, hush—
    Hear her soft step …
    Time, space and all
    Lie—a crumpled rag—        60
    Behind her …
    Hear her step …
    Her soft step …
  The Woman.  [Laughing.]  Who?
  Madame.  Maybe a president        65
    Of some bank.
    Gentlemen … always
    Highly recommended.

[A man is dimly visible sitting at a little table on which is some wine.]
  The Woman.  [Attempting to draw back.]  I—I—
[She hesitates, half fascinated. Her eyes and the man’s meet. Husband and wife face one another, raging spasmodically.]
  A Voice.  Leaves in the wind        70
    Puffing out—
    Withering.        75
  The Woman.  You!
[She stands against the wall, crying. Suddenly she bursts out laughing.]
  The Man.  You!
[He recoils with extreme contempt. After pacing the room, he speaks firmly.]
    Let us
    Talk this over.
[His gaze falls, and rests on the portières of a little room.]
  The Woman.  Yes.
[Laughs again.]
  The Man.  [Beyond himself.]  You!
[He rises, but sits down again. His appearance becomes mysteriously changed.]
  The Woman.  [Her wet eyes close to his face.]  Who—are you?
  The Man.  [Earnestly.]  Who are we?
  The Woman.  We are strangers.
[She repeats, crying tauntingly.]
    We are strangers!        85
  The Man.  [Laughs loud and kisses her.]  This place is haunted.

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