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A VALENTINE FOR HARRY CROSBY, by                    
First Line: I offer you a heart of red eisinglass outlined in tinsel
Last Line: Until a fresher season swoon between your thighs?
Subject(s): Crosby, Harry Sturgis (1898-1929)

I offer you a heart of red eisinglass outlined in tinsel.
If you hold it up to the light you can see the sun shining through.
It is as beautiful as a goat's eye lit with anger,
It is as grave as the pines that have grown taller and taller
Lingering along the road.

Now is the year as lacy as a gown
That on the staircase runs a step or two behind
Laced with fine frost and hung with falling snow,
Soft to the ankles as a swollen stream that follows and booms down the shallow
That heels in fleeing past have spaded out: those small half moons of tender
Which rose and waned like planets in your heavens,
Young coral-nostrilled heels wading the creeks that now have broken through
To sniff and bleat and nibble at the edge of spring.


Turn back your hair in a pompadour for the days
That have gone dwindling, that have tapered,
That have burned down to the very end.
For the days when my grandmother's hair was arrowlace

Of fern glossed red by the frost;
For the days spread like a goose's wing,
Forgotten in swivel chairs in Washington, forgotten,
In the Government Offices with a wig on, forgotten,
Forgotten, the apples rotting in the orchard,
The year left nailed in warning like a dead hawk on the barn door.

He is to be read of in history,
A gentle gentleman speaking words that shake the teeth in the head.
When the insomnia had him by the eyelids
He left his bed and walked out on the sea.
The quick little fish with their deep mouths remember

How his feet walked out on the brine of the waves.
There it is written in the cold cold hearts of them
In the cold tart blood that lies still on their bones,
How Jesus left his bed and Jesus left his women
And finely and shapely walked the salt of the sea.
The end of the tale is of Jesus like a butterfly
With his arms pinned open and his legs braided up with pain.


I would give you a day to go naked in.
Not this one, for it fits you badly,
And the blades of winter curved to your jaw's pumice
Whittle you to the bone.
Other days more to your measure:
June days that pinched your weeping arm-pits, hugged the tight drums of your
Clasped the shin drumsticks that rattled on them;
Checked April first days or double-breasted Christmases
Buttoned from gullet to ankle. But February's! with this day set in the middle
Like a bonfire at which to thaw your fingers.

Now is the year as lacy as a gown
Which curious winds blow up and down at will.
Hollowed for sound upon the heathen fields
The crocus quivers like a young goat's ear.
And you, what month are you, what wind that lies
As sweet as squirrel skin underneath the chin?
What time of year that sows no seeds, and reaps none,
Gives the weeded ground, the barren branch, makes way for spring
By root, by sap; draws close the February rains and bids them snuff the beacon
of your life
To let you sleep and sleep with sleep and sleep awhile
Until a fresher season swoon between your thighs?

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