Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
By Alter Brody
IT was so hard to comprehend it all
When she sighed casually to her daughter-in-law:
“When I nursed Benjamin—length of life to your little one!—I also had trouble with the breast.”
“Rachel—peace be upon her!—had just such hair as his.”        5
So hard to understand
That death was no abstraction to this woman—
No awful mystery waiting to be solved
In some vague vapory heaven,
But something casual and familiar,        10
Something as close to her
As her own flesh;
Something belonging to her as an old possession.
And she looked down curiously at this gray shrunken thing bending over her child,
Clasping the diaper-pin between his little thighs        15
With the gnarled roots of her hands:
This thing who was a partner to the opulent Earth—
Five sons, two daughters, her investment—
Flesh of her flesh and bone of her bone and milk of her breast,
That was now earth of the Earth,        20
Put by
Within their common treasury.
Who was a sister to the trees:
That spread themselves patiently in the air
And in the ground;        25
In whose branches the birds nest, at whose roots the worms;
That blossom bountifully for the wind
Asking no questions of it.
To whom Death was like an unacknowledged husband,
Whose seed had ripened secretly in her womb,        30
Whose children were suckled securely at her breasts—
Until he came one day and proved them his.
Who was the grandmother as well
To some grass and flowers and worms
In seven plots,        35
Scattered across two continents—
And to her boy!

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