AT THE PICTURE SHOW
by: Karle Wilson Baker
- HE sits
with eyes intent upon the screen,
- A quiet woman with work-hardened hands.
- Beside her squirms an eager, shock-head boy;
- Upon her lap a little rumpled girl
- With petalled cheek and bright, play-roughened hair;
- While, bulwark of the little family group,
- Her husband looms, with one unconscious arm
- Lying along her chair-back. So they come
- Often, and for a few cents, more or less,
- Slip through the wicket-gate of wonderment
- That bounds the beaten paths of everyday.
- The Indians and the horses thrill the boy
- With dreams of great adventure; the big man
- Likes the great bridges, and the curious lore
- Of alien folk in other lands; the child
- Laughs at the funny way the people die.
- And she?
- The way the hero's overcoat
- Sets to his shoulders; or a lock of hair
- Tossed back impatiently; or else a smile,
- A visible sigh, an eyebrow lifted, so,--
- They touch strange, buried, dispossessed old dreams.
- And while her hand plays with the baby's curls
- Unthinking, once again she sees the face
- That swayed her youth as ocean tides are swayed
- Until she broke her heart to save her soul . . .
- And fled back to her native town . . . and left
- In the gray canyons of the city streets
- All the high hopes of youth. . . .
- She has picked up
- Her life since then, and made a goodly thing
- Out of the fragments; that is written plain
- Upon the simple page for all to see.
- I fancy that she hardly thinks of him
- Through all her wholesome days; but when, at night
- They go a-voyaging across the screen,
- And suddenly a street-lamp throws a gleam
- On a wet pavement . . . and a man sits alone
- On a park bench . . . or else goes swinging past
- With that expression to his overcoat. . . .
- She does not pick this player-man, or that,
- But all the heroes have some trick of his. . . .
MORE POEMS BY KARLE WILSON BAKER
"At the Picture Show"
is reprinted from Anthology of Magazine Verse for 1916.
Ed. William Stanley Braithwaite. New York: Laurence J. Gomme,