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Two Poems by Sherwood Anderson

Man Speaking to a Woman

You have come to me from a tall awkward city. You have come to me from the sister cities of the north. On your way here to me you have run in and out of a thousand cities that lie like unhatched eggs on the prairies.

You are a distraught woman with tangled hair and once you owned a house in a street where wagons and motor trucks went up and down.

I am glad you are tangled in a web of thought.
I am glad your thoughts have driven you out of the cities.
You have come up a hill to a place where I sit.
I am glad.
I will take the end of a thought in my hand and walk back and forth.
I will climb into trees.
I will run in holes under the ground.
I will weave a web over yourself.

You shall sit on a stone under a wall where a gateway leads into the valley of truth and as I weave you into oblivion I will tell you a tale.

Long ago, on a day in October, a woman like you came here to the face of the wall. The shadow of many perplexities lay like a film over her eyes. She sat on the stone with her back to the wall as you sit now. My father, who was then a young man, laid long threads of thought over her body.

A stone fell out of the wall and the woman was killed.
The wall is strong but a stone fell out of the wall.
It made a great noise.
A noise like the firing of guns was heard to the North and the South.

In the Valley there was a day set aside for the cleansing of doorsteps.
The sound of the tinkling of bells came over the wall.

A stone fell out of the wall on the head of a woman.
She fled from my father.
She fled like a frightened bird over the wall.

A Vagrant

I am become a brightly colored insect.

I am a boy lying by a river on a summer day.

At my back is an orchard.

I look dreamily out over warm stagnant waters. There is a reed grows out of the yellow mud. In the orchard at my back a hog grunts. An insect with brightly colored back and wings comes swinging down stream. He has lived more freely than the waters of the river. I go with him as I would go in at the door of God's house if I knew the street in which God's house stands, as I would go into you if you would leave the door open for me.


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April 2009

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