Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The Joys of Lesbian Lit

a few poems of Elsa Gidlow

For the Goddess Too Well Known

I have robbed the garrulous streets,
Thieved a fair girl from their blight,
I have stolen her for a sacrifice
That I shall make to this night.

I have brought her, laughing,
To my quietly dreaming garden.
For what will be done there
I ask no man pardon.

I brush the rouge from her cheeks,
Clean the black kohl from the rims
Of her eyes; loose her hair;
Uncover the glimmering, shy limbs.

I break wild roses, scatter them over her.
The thorns between us sting like love's pain.
Her flesh, bitter and salt to my tongue,
I taste with endless kisses and taste again.

At dawn I leave her
Asleep in my wakening garden.
(For what was done there
I ask no man pardon.)


You're jealous if I kiss this girl and that,
You think I should be constant to one mouth?
Little you know of my too quenchless drouth:
My sister, I keep faith with love, not lovers.

Life laid a flaming finger on my heart,
Gave me an electric golden thread,
Pointed to a pile of beads and said:
Link me one more glorious than the rest.

Love's the thread, my sister, you a bead,
An ivory one, you are so delicate.
Those first burned ash-grey--far too passionate.
Further on the colors mount and sing.

When the last bead's painted with the last design
And slipped upon the thread, I'll tie it: so;
Then smiling quietly I'll turn and go
While vain Life boasts her latest ornament.


Strange that a single white iris
Given carelessly one slumbering spring midnight
Should be the first of love,
Yet life is written so.

If it had been a rose
I might have smiled and pinned it to my dress:
We should have said Good Night casually
And never met again.
But the white iris!
It looked so infinitely pure
In the thin green moonlight.
A thousand little purple things
That had trembled about me through the young years
Floated into a shape I seem always to have known
That I suddenly called Love!

The faint touch of your long fingers on mine wakened me.
I saw that your tumbled hair was bright with flame,
That your eyes were sapphire souls with
hungry stars in them,
And your lips were too near not to be kissed.

Life crouches at the knees of Chance
And takes what falls to her.

Love's Acolyte

Many have loved you with lips and fingers
And lain with you till the moon went out;
Many have brought you lover's gifts!
And some have left their dreams on your doorstep.

But I who am youth among your lovers
Come like an acolyte to worship,
My thirsting blood restrained by reverence,
My heart a wordless prayer.

The candles of desire are lighted,
I bow my head, afraid before you,
A mendicant who craves your bounty
Ashamed of what small gifts she brings.

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