The haggard woman with a hacking cough and a
deathless love whispers of white flowers … in
your poem you pour like a cup of coffee, Gabriel.
The slim girl whose voice was lost in the waves of
flesh piled on her bones . . . and the woman who
sold to many men and saw her breasts shrivel
… in two poems you pour these like a cup of
The woman whose lips are a thread of scarlet, the
woman whose feet take hold on hell, the woman
who turned to a memorial of salt looking at the
lights of a forgotten city… in your affidavits,
ancient Jews, you pour these like cups of coffee.
The woman who took men as snakes take rabbits, a
rag and a bone and a hank of hair, she whose
eyes called men to sea dreams and shark’s teeth
… in a poem you pour this like a cup of coffee,
Marching to the footlights in night robes with spots
of blood, marching in white sheets muffling the
faces, marching with heads in the air they come
back and cough and cry and sneer… in your
poems, men, you pour these like cups of coffee.
Carl Sandburg (1878 – 1967) American writer and poet, recipient of three Pulitzer Prizes (for poetry and the biography of Abraham Lincoln).