BLACK CAT POEMS
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by: Conrad Aiken (1889-1973)
Queen cleopatra, now grown old,
Watched the green grass turning brown ...
The river is shrunk to half its size:
Now I will lay me down.
Queen Cleopatra called her slaves
And peered in the mirror with age-pearled eyes;
My lips are not so read as they were:
Not so the old leaf dies!
Light the torches, and fill the courts
With scarlet music, and bring to me
Vermilion to smear upon my lips,
And opals, that I may be
Once more what Cleopatra was
Before the woman became the queen ...
She laughed, and backward tossed her head;
And horn, and tambourine,
Snarled at the hot and red-starred
While gasping dancers, one by one,
Whirled on the stone with yellow feet ...
And when that dance was done
She poured cold poison into a cup
And watched the thick foam wink and seethe:
One black bubble upon her tongue
And she would cease to breathe.
She held the poison before her mouth ...
And saw the dark tomb hewed in stone
Where a thousand nights would drift as one,
And she would
And lightly touched the goblet's rim,
And thought, with a pleased and narrowed eye,
Of this and that, and Antony,
And the laugh that will not die.
poems by Conrad Aiken