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Poem by Dora Sigerson Shorter

The Old Maid

She walks in a lonely garden
   On the path her feet have made,
With high-heeled shoes, gold-buckled,
   And gown of a flowered brocade;

The hair that falls on her shoulders,
   Half-held with a ribbon tie,
Once glowed like the wheat in autumn,
   Now grey as a winter sky.

Time on her brow with rough fingers
   Writes his record of smiles and tears;
And her mind, like a golden timepiece,
   He stopped in the long past years.

At the foot of the lonely garden,
   When she comes to the trysting place
She knew of old, there she lingers,
   With a blush on her withered face.

The children out on the common:
   They climb to the garden wall;
And laugh: He will come to-morrow!
   Who never will come at all.

And often over our sewing,
   As I and my neighbour sit
To gossip over this story
   That has never an end to it,

He is dead, I would say, that lover,
   Who left her so long ago,
But my neighbour would rest her needle
   To answer, Hes false I know.

For could it be he were sleeping.
   With a love that was such as this
Hed have burst through the gates of silence,
   And flown to meet her kiss.

Is she best with tears or laughter,
   This dame in her old brocade?
My neighbour says she is holy,
   With a faith that will not fade.

* * * * *

But the children out on the common
   They answer her dreary call,
And say: He will come to-morrow!
   Who never will come at all.

Dora Sigerson Shorter

Dora Sigerson Shorter's other poems:
  1. The Kine of My Father
  2. An Imperfect Revolution
  3. Sixteen Dead Men
  4. The Fairy Changeling
  5. You Will Not Come Again

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