Ruth Stone

I crawl up the couch leg feeling
Your blond hair, your bloomy skin.
What do I want from you, giant?
I am afraid. But I laugh; I enjoy.
You fabricate. The words and music tremble
And thunder my thin blood.
The air is heated; odor of indian oil.
Trussed bed where bodies grapple; arms, legs,
Breasts, balls; the giants copulating.
I crawl up a wall and open my wings
And flutter down in borrowed ecstasy.

But then not open ended as it ought to be;
The beer, the refrigerator, the dull
Sequel shrinks to five rooms
In a treeless suburb. And cockroach that I am,
I go behind the baseboard to fornicate and spread
Myself, ancient as the ovulum and sperm.

bitter about the last place


Ruth Stone
I am still bitter about the last place we stayed.
The bed was really too small for both of us.
In that same rooming house
Walls were lined with filing cases,
Drawers of bird’s eggs packed in cotton.
The landlady described them.
As widow of the ornithologist,
Actually he was a postal clerk,
She was proprietor of the remains.
Had accompanied him on his holidays
Collecting eggs. Yes,
He would send her up the tree
And when she faltered he would shout,
“Put it in your mouth. Put it in your mouth.”
It was nasty, she said,
Closing a drawer with her knee.
Faintly blue, freckled, mauve, taupe,
Chalk white eggs.
As we turned the second flight of stairs
Toward a mattress unfit for two,
Her voice would echo up the well,
Something about an electric kettle
At the foot of our bed.
Eggs, eggs, eggs in secret muted shapes in my head;
Hundreds of unborn wizened eggs.
I think about them when I think of you.

“guilty by default”


Ruth Stone
You intimidated me. I was thrown into hell without a trial.
Guilty by default. It was clear the murdered one was dead.
There were only two of us. But no one came to lead me away.
A hundred eyes looked in and saw me on fire.
We loved him, they said. Then they forgot.
After many years I knew who it was who had died.
Murderer, I whispered, you tricked me.

deceived innocence


Ruth Stone
We ladies sense it is the cuckoo builds no nest;
To float the flower on the pond and hide the stem,
That’s to be as we are. God gives us recompense.
Within the nursery one may smack and kiss
As among giggling nuns. The business is,
Secure the man when young and then repent
Amid his willows and his streams. Sweet lioness,
The sorcerer says in ugly dreams you have
No bloodless sorrow. Whose bones attest to this?
We ache, we grow fat, we are oppressed.
Metamorphosis deceives our innocence.
Morning after morning slips
The spider with her web across our lips.