September 27, 2010

'The Song of the Tortured Girl' by John Berryman.


After a little I could not have told -
But no one asked me this – why I was there.
I asked. The ceiling of that place was high.
And there were sudden noises, which I made.
I must have stayed there a long time today:
My cup of soup was gone when they brought me back.
-
Often ‘Nothing worse can now come to us’
I thought, the winter the young men stayed away,
My uncle died and mother broke her crutch.
And then the strange room where the brightest light
Does not shine on the strange men: shines on me.
I feel them stretch my youth and throw a switch.
-
Through leafless branches the sweet wind blows
Making a mild sound, softer than a moan;
High in a pass once where we put our tent,
Minutes I lay awake to hear my joy.
- I no longer remember what they want. -
Minutes I lay awake to hear my joy.
-

(p. 52 in John Berryman (1989) Collected Poems 1937-1971, ed. Charles Thornbury, London/Boston: Faber.)

Note: Thanks to George Ttoouli for directing me to this poem some years ago.


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