This morning I got up before the sun
Had seized the hill,
And scrambled heart-hot, noisy, past each one
In sleep laid still.
There they lay helpless under the gold stars,
Good folk and kind,
By sleep the robber spoiled of heavenly wares,
Made deaf and blind.
The leaves cracked, the grass rustled as I passed.
I might have been
Myself the thief. Each minute seemed the last
Of freedom's teen.
But lonely down the hill in Levite's guise
Or priest's, I ran.
I had not proved myself, true loverwise,
The wind went by me, pulling at my hair.
I left the track.
My last night's purpose terrible and fair
Came sweeping back.
Among the bracken under a white tree
I sat me down,
And slipped my shoulders very stealthily
From out my gown.
One minute I lay naked on the grass,
Then sat upright.
The hot wind had its will with me, and kissed
My bosom white.
The stars gleamed in the grey before the rose.
Were they not eyes
That peered and leered, and seemed about to close
In shocked surprise?
With the whole sky at gaze, there had I lain.
Had dared thus much.
I ran on frightened down the hill again,
With gown to clutch.
Down by the creek the blackberries grew thick,
And as I passed
They stretched long arms to hinder me and prick,
Make me shamefast?
Nay, they laughed, pulling at my slipping gown,
Would have laid bare
To chance men on the hillside looking down
The whiteness there.
Close by the blackwoods is the bathing pool
The men have made.
I was no sport for stars, no bramble's fool
In the trees' shade.
But when I stood with limbs and body free
And gleaming fair,
The little kind ferns screened and covered me
Like Agnes' hair.
I slipped into the shallow water, felt
The fine brown sand
Of the creek bottom, shuddered, splashed and knelt
Too cold to stand.
Happy and shivering, with trees overhead,
Fern walls around,
I listened to the water talking, led
To praise by sound.
So I have felt the wind and water's kiss,
Though I'm a maid.
Better be man than be a girl, and miss
Lesbia Harford's Other Poems
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