A DEAD WOMAN
by: Vance Thompson
- PEN swing the doors; the torches
- Flicker in the windy night--
- Cast strange shadows in the porches,
- Down dim alleys in the night.
- Come away now--dust and ashes--
- Dust to dust and clay to clay--
- Stormily the organ crashes--
- Dust and ashes--come away.
- High the wind snarls and the torches,
- Flaring down the blackening night,
- Toss grim shadows in the porches
- And dim alleys in the night.
- Men looked at you; saw the woman,
- Just the eyes and limbs and common
- Charm--odor di femina--that
- Draws us all. And only saw that.
- One man cared not much for seeming--
- Animal red lips and dreaming,
- Helpless eyes; great limbs; the value
- Of the flesh you wore to pall you,
- All that palpitant, sweet vesture--
- Caring not for these, he pressed your
- Body in the rack, to tear it
- Open, till he saw the spirit,
- Soul of you, its shame or merit.
- First he took your body, woman,
- Stained it, smirched it, made it common,
- Scarred it with strange loves, flagitious.
- Gored it raw with lust; set vicious
- Things to heat the eyes; lubricious,
- Unclean things to smirk and chatter
- In the ears lewd, Paphian matter.
- So he made you foul; and eager
- Then to see how fared the meagre,
- Warped, black, ulcered soul, he started
- The great rack wheels. Snapped and parted
- All the strings of the flesh raiment
- He had fouled. The man for payment
- Saw white wings flash as your soul went,
- White, white, white, to God's enrollment.
- They buried you to-night.
- He saw the yellow torches blown alight,
- Heard the organ's thunder.
- He went away into the confused night,
- Full of wonder.
POEMS BY VANCE THOMPSON
"A Dead Woman" is reprinted
from Poetica Erotica. Ed. T.R. Smith. New York: Crown