Poetry of Kansas

Little Brother.

Sad I leaned in the hearthstone's glow,
Little I recked that the flame was low,
Little I cared that the house was still,
That midnight tolled from the church on the hill.
 
Hark! What's the sound that falls on my ear?
Is this a time for an idle fear?
A mouse perchance that creeps in the wall;
The eerie echo of a wild bird's call.
 
Nay, something clings at the window sash
There where the scattering raindrops dash.
"O little white thing in my candle's glow,
Sobbing soft by the casement low,
 
"Turn thee away from the warmth and the light,
This is the House of Death tonight."
"Far I've come from the windswept space,
Come for a glimpse of my mother's face.
 
"I was the babe that died e'er morn
Back in the years e'er thou wert born.
Ever I come from the cold and the night
To her in the warmth and fire and light."
 
"No, little brother, that could not be.
She'd daughters many and fair to see,
Sons stalwart and brave that loved her true;
How could she spare a thought to you?
 
"It was so long since you slipt from her arm;
Tell me, what was the secret charm
That should make her turn from the warmth and the light,
Turn her face to the cold and the night?"
 
But softly the answer, faint and low,
"Little enough the cause I know,
But her face was kind and her face was sweet
Ever the yearning look I'd meet
Ever she'd turn from the fire and the light
To me at the window in the cold and the night."
 
I minded how in the days gone by
When the board was spread and the mirth leaped high
I had seen instead of the smile the sigh
And then in a moment her mood passed by.
 
"Was her thought of you then, little brother?
Woe's me! This night have I lost my mother.
Go hack. little brother, to the windswept place;
Perchance if you search you may see her face,
Perchance she stumbles and cannot see,
Perchance she now hath need of thee."
 
I would give all the warmth and the fire and the light
For only one touch of her hand tonight.

__Alice Winston

Contemporary Kansas Poetry
Helen Rhoda Hoopes
pages 129-130
(Kansas City: Joseph D. Havens Company. 1927)

 
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March 4, 2003 / John & Susan Howell / Wichita, Kansas / howell@kotn.org

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