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Promises Promises

 I am stretched out under the lean-to
Of an old tobacco-shed
On a farm in North Carolina.
A cardinal sings from the dogwood For the love of marijuana.
His song goes over my head.
There is such splendour in the grass I might be the picture of happiness.
Yet I am utterly bereft Of the low hills, the open-ended sky, The wave upon wave of pasture Rolling in, and just as surely Falling short of my bare feet.
Whatever is passing is passing me by.
I am with Raleigh, near the Atlantic, Where we have built a stockade Around our little colony.
Give him his scallop-shell of quiet, His staff of faith to walk upon, His scrip of joy, immortal diet— We are some eighty souls On whom Raleigh will hoist his sails.
He will return, years afterwards, To wonder where and why We might have altogether disappeared, Only to glimpse us here and there As one fair strand in her braid, The blue in an Indian girl's dead eye.
I am stretched out under the lean-to Of an old tobacco-shed On a farm in North Carolina, When someone or other, warm, naked, Stirs within my own skeleton And stands on tip-toe to look out Over the horizon, Through the zones, across the Ocean.
The cardinal sings from a redbud For the love of one slender and shy, The flight after flight of stairs To her room in Bayswater, The damson freckle on her throat That I kissed when we kissed Goodbye.

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