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About this Poem 

"At sixteen, I stopped feeling ashamed of desiring men but dealing with a public queer identity—navigating a world that told me if I wasn’t invisible I wasn’t wanted—stressed me. Then and now, I loved media written by or about women—safe havens for the femme self I was shamed into hiding. I felt kinship with women whose inner lives were ignored or denigrated. H. D.’s book Sea Garden was one such work. Because my queerness was private and hypothetical (I hadn’t so much as kissed a boy at the time) my sexuality was profoundly interior. Sea Garden reminded me of Florida, the patch of beach where I listened to Mariah Carey and imagined a life without worry. Unafraid of traditionally feminine images—flowers, the sea—H. D.’s luscious and acrid, florid and bitter, god-haunted landscapes—erotic, psychological, and spiritual—inspired me. In H. D.’s poem ‘Orchard,’ the prostrate speaker entreats a god’s absent son to spare him from loveliness. Isn’t this an endlessly queer dilemma—to love and loathe one’s desire? I knew those rituals from my own fantasies beckoning some big, god of a man to have his way with my body, yet stay, stay tender, leave me—so that I may call him again—loved, sore, alive."
Derrick Austin

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Orchard


I saw the first pear	
as it fell—
the honey-seeking, golden-banded,	
the yellow swarm	
was not more fleet than I,	        
(spare us from loveliness)	
and I fell prostrate	
crying:	
you have flayed us	
with your blossoms,	        
spare us the beauty	
of fruit-trees.	
 
The honey-seeking	
paused not,	
the air thundered their song,	        
and I alone was prostrate.	
 
O rough-hewn	
god of the orchard,	
I bring you an offering—	
do you, alone unbeautiful,	        
son of the god,	
spare us from loveliness:	
 
these fallen hazel-nuts,	
stripped late of their green sheaths,	
grapes, red-purple,	        
their berries	
dripping with wine,	
pomegranates already broken,	
and shrunken figs	
and quinces untouched,	        
I bring you as offering.

This poem is in the public domain.

This poem is in the public domain.

H. D.

H. D.

Born in 1886, Hilda Doolittle was one of the leaders of the Imagist movement.

by this poet

poem
I should have thought
in a dream you would have brought
some lovely, perilous thing,
orchids piled in a great sheath,
as who would say (in a dream),
"I send you this,
who left the blue veins
of your throat unkissed."

Why was it that your hands
(that never took mine),
your hands that I could see
drift over the
poem

Where the slow river
meets the tide,
a red swan lifts red wings
and darker beak,
and underneath the purple down
of his soft breast
uncurls his coral feet.

Through the deep purple
of the dying heat
of sun and mist,
the level ray of sun-beam
has caressed

poem

Drenched with purple,
drenched with dye, my wool,
bind you the wheel-spokes—
turn, turn, turn my wheel!

Drenched with purple,
steeped in the red pulp
of bursting sea-sloes—
turn, turn, turn my wheel!

(Ah did he think
I did not know,
I did not feel—
what wrack