by: Claude McKay (1890-1948)

      O much have I forgotten in ten years,
      So much in ten brief years! I have forgot
      What time the purple apples come to juice,
      And what month brings the shy forget-me-not.
      I have forgot the special, startling season
      Of the pimento's flowering and fruiting;
      What time of year the ground doves brown the fields
      And fill the noonday with their curious fluting.
      I have forgotten much, but still remember
      The poinsettia's red, blood-red in warm December.
      I still recall the honey-fever grass,
      But cannot recollect the high days when
      We rooted them out of the ping-wing path
      To stop the mad bees in the rabbit pen.
      I often try to think in what sweet month
      The languid painted ladies used to dapple
      The yellow by-road mazing from the main,
      Sweet with the golden threads of the rose-apple.
      I have forgotten--strange--but quite remember
      The poinsettia's red, blood-red in warm December.
      What weeks, what months, what time of the mild year
      We cheated school to have our fling at tops?
      What days our wine-thrilled bodies pulsed with joy
      Feasting upon blackberries in the copse?
      Oh some I know! I have embalmed the days
      Even the sacred moments when we played,
      All innocent of passion, uncorrupt,
      At noon and evening in the flame-heart's shade.
      We were so happy, happy, I remember,
      Beneath the poinsettia's red in warm December.

"Flame-Heart" is reprinted from Harlem Shadows. Claude McKay. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1922.




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