Yoke poem

Marguerite Yourcenar

The women where I come from bear a yoke on their
Their slow grave hearts tick tock between these two poles.
At each step two great pails brimming with milk bang
against their legs;
Milk-cows' mother-soul, the foam of chewed grass gushes in
soft sickly streams.

I am like the servant-girl on the farm;
I stride the length of pain with a firm step.
The left-side pail is full of blood;
You may drink your fill of that strong juice.
The right-side pail is full of ice;
Lean over it and study the fatigue on your face.
And so I pass between my destiny and my fate;
Between my blood, warm flow, and my love, limpid death.
And when I can be sure that neither mirror nor drink
Can any more distract or reassure your wild heart
I won't smash the resigned mirror;
I won't spill the pail where my whole life has bled.

I'll go, bearing my pail of blood, into black night,
To be among ghosts-they at least will drink.
But with my pail of ice I'll head into the tide.
The moan of little waves will be less gentle than my sobs.
A great pallid face will appear on the dune,
And this mirror you reject will give back the calm of
the moon.

Last updated December 22, 2022