Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ENCOUNTER, by IRENE CARLISLE



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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

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ENCOUNTER, by            
First Line: Younger than we, she climbed the muddy hill
Last Line: And pitying watched us down the sodden road.
Subject(s): Poverty; Women


Younger than we, she climbed the muddy hill
Barefoot, and passed us with her casual stride;
Her gaunt breasts flapping under faded drill,
A weathered mongrel lagging at her side.
Clutching her baby and her bag of meal,
She mumbled and stared and drew aside to pass;
Her draggled skirt bore down the dripping grass;
She turned the sharp stones with a calloused heel.

Yet in her house at midnight she can rise
And try her doors in the dark, make safe her home.
She knows each crack, each chair, each creaking board.
Here sleeps her man, grimed with the mountain loam;
Here hangs the water-bucket, there is the gourd,
Yonder the pallet where her first-born lies.
Pain she has known, and cold, and scanty dress;
Dank fuel and hunger and the threat of drouth,
But not the soured wine of loneliness
Nor the black bread of failure in her mouth.

She shifted on the hip her whimpering load,
And pitying watched us down the sodden road.





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