At the Carnival
Gay little Girl-of-the-Diving-Tank, I desire a name for you, Nice, as a right glove fits; For you—who amid the malodorous Mechanics of this unlovely thing, Are darling of spirit and form. I know you—a glance, and what you are Sits-by-the-fire in my heart. My Limousine-Lady knows you, or Why does the slant-envy of her eye mark Your straight air and radiant inclusive smile? Guilt pins a fig-leaf; Innocence is its own adorning. The bull-necked man knows you—this first time His itching flesh sees form divine and vibrant health And thinks not of his avocation. I came incuriously— Set on no diversion save that my mind Might safely nurse its brood of misdeeds In the presence of a blind crowd. The color of life was gray. Everywhere the setting seemed right For my mood. Here the sausage and garlic booth Sent unholy incense skyward; There a quivering female-thing Gestured assignations, and lied To call it dancing; There, too, were games of chance With chances for none; But oh! Girl-of-the-Tank, at last! Gleaming Girl, how intimately pure and free The gaze you send the crowd, As though you know the dearth of beauty In its sordid life. We need you—my Limousine-Lady, The bull-necked man and I. Seeing you here brave and water-clean, Leaven for the heavy ones of earth, I am swift to feel that what makes The plodder glad is good; and Whatever is good is God. The wonder is that you are here; I have seen the queer in queer places, But never before a heaven-fed Naiad of the Carnival-Tank! Little Diver, Destiny for you, Like as for me, is shod in silence; Years may seep into your soul The bacilli of the usual and the expedient; I implore Neptune to claim his child to-day!
This poem is in the public domain.