The Woman I Met (II)

"I said: 'It is his mother's spirit
Hovering around
To shield him, maybe!' I used to fear it,
As still I found
My beauty left no least impression,
And remnants of pride withheld confession
Of my true trade
By speaking; so I delayed.

"I said: 'Perhaps with a costly flower
He'll be beguiled.'
I held it, in passing you one late hour,
To your face: you smiled,
Keeping step with the throng; though you did not see there
A single one that rivalled me there! . . .
Well: it's all past.
I died in the Lock at last."

So walked the dead and I together
The quick among,
Elbowing our kind of every feather
Slowly and long;
Yea, long and slowly. That a phantom should stalk there
With me seemed nothing strange, and talk there
That winter night
By flaming jets of light.

She showed me Juans who feared their call-time,
Guessing their lot;
She showed me her sort that cursed their fall-time,
And that did not.
Till suddenly murmured she: "Now, tell me,
Why asked you never, ere death befell me,
To have my love,
Much as I dreamt thereof?"

I could not answer. And she, well weeting
All in my heart,
Said: "God your guardian kept our fleeting
Forms apart!"
Sighing and drawing her furs around her
Over the shroud that tightly bound her,
With wafts as from clay
She turned and thinned away.

LONDON, 1918.

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