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I Remember Very Well

I remember very well the day my mother
engaged the girl. Her bedroom was a converted
stone stable conveniently close to the kitchen.

I myself slept in the attic (close under the eaves
too near to the everpresent God I was afraid of!)
where the tiled midsummer heat was terrific.

Adolescent (16) I at once noticed her sudden smile,
her lively eyes, splendid figure & bright red hair.

She was granted a small weekly sum
(enough for the pictures or for a few sweets)
on the Tuesday - after 2.30 - outing.

Passionately she employed the evening, I supposed,
stirring up some idle, aimless & pimply lecher!

This idea grew & grew: I continually saw her
(imagined I saw her) dreaming & tumbling, eager
for other hands & lips, longing for something, somebody.

Certainly, but without greediness, she had childish hopes
& mercenary visions, dreamt she owned a house,
a cat, a dog, a comfortable bed & a husband!

I lay in the attic, terrified at the thought, meditating
in my bed by the watertank, counting step by step
every step I might so easily & carelessly have trod,
with that child - spiderlike - cleverly clinging to her web,
good God!

Note

A youth in an overheated attic paints confused pictures of the powerfully sexed & crudely possessive, lowly paid servant girl. His portrait of her paralyzes him. Stirred, frightened & hopelessly divided, he feverishly Imagines how disastrous the end might have been.

(This boy & girl live of course in a distant past difficult for liberated persons to imagine.)