A Colonial Custom Bathsheba came out to the sun, Out to our wallèd cherry-trees; The tears adown her cheek did run, Bathsheba standing in the sun, Telling the bees. My mother had that moment died; Unknowing, sped I to the trees, And plucked Bathsheba’s hand aside; Then caught the name that there she
No wind, no bird. The river flames like brass.
On either side, smitten as with a spell
Of silence, brood the fields. In the deep grass,
Edging the dusty roads, lie as they fell
Handfuls of shriveled leaves from tree and bush.
But ’long the orchard fence and at the gate,
Thrusting their saffron torches through the hush,
Wild lilies blaze, and bees hum soon and late.
Rust-colored the tall straggling briar, not one
Rose left. The spider sets its loom up there
Close to the roots, and spins out in the sun
A silken web from twig to twig. The air
Is full of hot rank scents. Upon the hill
Drifts the noon’s single cloud, white, glaring, still.
Lizette Woodworth Reese
Lizette Woodworth Reese was born in Maryland in 1856. She was named poet laureate of Maryland in 1931. Her books include A Branch of May (1887) and A Wayside Lute (1909). Reese died in 1935.