Babette Deutsch

1895 - 1982

The Phoenix

Staring in zoos at the dull-eyed and wild
Who never meet their gaze,
The child, the refugee, the idle sailor
Halt their wanderings to praise the plumage
Of every bird by this.
The friendless seaman and the exile trade
Feathered marvels for their memories.
The child excapes
To a safe jungle rich with cries and colors.
Comforted, they turn back
To the barred nursery, the bareness of
Shipboard or rented room.

Will you come, phoenix joy?

On the stained path two lovers pause.
The air
Where upon no visible branch
His wings of light, his breast,
Softer than any kiss, an instant rest.
The world's worse shabbiness
Crumbles. Their eyes meet.

Would you fly, phoenix joy?

But these,returning
Late and alone, will hear the song he sings
Among the ashes as
His self-begotten beauty dying burns.
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