Lola Ridge

(December 12, 1873- May 19, 1941 / Dublin)

In Harness


I

The foreman's head slowly circling… White rims under yellow disks of eyes…. Gold hairs starting out of a blond scowl… Hovering… disappearing… recurring… the foreman's head.

Droning of power-machines… droning of girl with adenoids… Arms flapping with a fin-like motion under sun burning down through a sky-light like a glass lid. Light skating on the rims of wheels… boring in gimlet points. Needles flickering fierce white threads of light fine as a wasp's sting. Light in sweat-drops brighter than eyes and calico-pallid faces and bodies throwing off smells— and the air a bloated presence pressing on the walls and the silence a compressed scream.

Allons enfants de la patrie— Electric… piercing… shrill as a fife the voice of a little Russian breaks out of the shivered circle. Another voice rises… another and another leaps like flame to flame. And life—surging, clamorous, swarming like a rabble crazily fluttering ragged petticoats— comes rushing back into torpid eyes like suddenly yielded gates.

The girl with adenoids rocks on her hams. A torrent of song strains at her throat, gurgles, rushes, gouges her blocked pipes. Her feet beat a wild tattoo— head flung back and pelvis lifting to the white body of the sun. Mates now, these two— goddess and god…. Marchons!

Only the power machines drone with metallic docility under the flaxen head of the foreman poised like an amazed gull.

II

To-day
little French merchant men
with pointed beards
and fat American merchant men
without any beards
drive to a feast of buttered squabs.
The band… accoutered and neatly caparisoned…
plays the Marseillaise….
And I think of a wild stallion… newly caught…
flanks yet taut and nostrils spread
to the smell of a racing mare,
hitched to a grocer's cart.

Submitted: Wednesday, February 08, 2012
Edited: Wednesday, February 08, 2012

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