Arthur Davison Ficke

1883-1945 / United States

Portrait Of An Old Woman

She limps with halting painful pace,
Stops, wavers and creeps on again;
Peers up with dim and questioning face,
Void of desire or doubt or pain.

Her cheeks hang gray in waxen folds
Wherein there stirs no blood at all.
A hand, like bundled cornstalks, holds
The tatters of a faded shawl.

Where was a breast, sunk bones she clasps;
A knot jerks where were woman-hips;
A ropy throat sends writhing gasps
Up to the tight line of her lips.

Here strong the city's pomp is poured…
She stands, unhuman, bleak, aghast:
An empty temple of the Lord
From which the jocund Lord has passed.

He has builded him another house,
Whenceforth his flame, renewed and bright,
Shines stark upon these weathered brows
Abandoned to the final night.
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