1941 by Ruth Stone

I wore a large brim hat
like the women in the ads.
How thin I was: such skin.
Yes. It was Indianapolis;
a taste of sin.

You had a natural Afro;
no money for a haircut.
We were in the seedy part;
the buildings all run-down;
the record shop, the jazz
impeccable. We moved like
the blind, relying on our touch.
At the corner coffee shop,
after an hour’s play, with our
serious game on paper,
the waitress asked us
to move on. It wasn’t much.

Oh mortal love, your bones
were beautiful. I traced them
with my fingers. Now the light
grows less. You were so angular.
The air darkens with steel
and smoke. The cracked world
about to disintegrate,
in the arms of my total happiness.

From: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/47986/1941

Date: 1999

By: Ruth Stone (1915-2011)

One Comment to “1941 by Ruth Stone”

  1. Glad to see you picked up Ruth Stone, a poet who isn’t as well known as she should be. Her poetry is too straightforward for current fashion.

    Here are a couple other poems by her that I saved.

    CURTAINS

    Putting up new curtains, other windows intrude. As though it is that first winter in Cambridge when you and I had just moved in. Now cold borscht alone in a bare kitchen.

    What does it mean if I say this years later?

    Listen, last night I am on a crying jag with my landlord, Mr. Tempesta. I sneaked in two cats. He screams NO PETS! NO PETS! I become my Aunt Virginia, proud but weak in the head. I remember Anna Magnani. I throw a few books. I shout. He wipes his eyes and opens his hands. OK OK keep the dirty animals but no nails in the walls. We cry together. I am so nervous, he says.

    I want to dig you up and say, look, it’s like the time, remember, when I ran into our living room naked to get rid of that fire inspector.

    See what you miss by being dead?

    Male Gorillas

    At the doughnut shop twenty-three silver backs are lined up at the bar, sitting on the stools. It’s morning coffee and trash day. The waitress has a heavy feeling face considerate with carmine lipstick. She doesn’t brown my fries. I have to stand at the counter and insist on my order. I take my cup of coffee to a small inoffensive table along the wall. At the counter the male chorus line is lined up tight. I look at their almost identical butts, their buddy hunched shoulders, the curve of their ancient spines. They are methodically browsing in their own territory. This data goes into that vast confused library, the female mind.

    Reminds me of another straightforward poet I like who’s gotten lost in the parade of current fashion, Leonard Nathan. Have I mentioned him before? Here’s a poem of his I like.

    *Toast*

    Leonard Nathan

    There was a woman in Ithaca who cried softly all night I fell in love with her under the blanket of snow that settled on all the roots of the town, filling up every dark depression.

    Next morning in the motel coffee shop I studied all the made-up faces of women. Was it the middle-aged blonde who kidded the waitress or the young brunette lifting her cup like a toast?

    Love, whoever you are, your courage was my companion for many cold towns after the betrayal of Ithaca, and when I order coffee in a strange place, still I say, lifting, this is for you.

    On Tue, Jun 26, 2018 at 9:33 PM, From Troubles of The World wrote:

    > flusteredduck posted: “I wore a large brim hat like the women in the ads. > How thin I was: such skin. Yes. It was Indianapolis; a taste of sin. You > had a natural Afro; no money for a haircut. We were in the seedy part; the > buildings all run-down; the record shop, the ” >

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