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To A Friend Concerning Several Ladies

 You know there is not much 
that I desire, a few chrysanthemums 
half lying on the grass, yellow 
and brown and white, the 
talk of a few people, the trees, 
an expanse of dried leaves perhaps 
with ditches among them.
But there comes between me and these things a letter or even a look—well placed, you understand, so that I am confused, twisted four ways and—left flat, unable to lift the food to my own mouth: Here is what they say: Come! and come! and come! And if I do not go I remain stale to myself and if I go— I have watched the city from a distance at night and wondered why I wrote no poem.
Come! yes, the city is ablaze for you and you stand and look at it.
And they are right.
There is no good in the world except out of a woman and certain women alone for certain.
But what if I arrive like a turtle, with my house on my back or a fish ogling from under water? It will not do.
I must be steaming with love, colored like a flamingo.
For what? To have legs and a silly head and to smell, pah! like a flamingo that soils its own feathers behind.
Must I go home filled with a bad poem? And they say: Who can answer these things till he has tried? Your eyes are half closed, you are a child, oh, a sweet one, ready to play but I will make a man of you and with love on his shoulder—! And in the marshes the crickets run on the sunny dike's top and make burrows there, the water reflects the reeds and the reeds move on their stalks and rattle drily.

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