What do I care
that the stream is trampled,
the sand on the stream-bank
still holds the print of your foot:
the heel is cut deep.
I see another mark
on the grass ridge of the bank-
it points toward the wood-path.
I have lost the third
in the packed earth.
a wild-hyacinth stalk is snapped:
the purple buds-half ripe-
show deep purple
where your heel pressed.
A patch of flowering grass,
you brushed this:
the green stems show yellow-green
where you lifted-turned the earth-side
to the light:
this and a dead leaf-spine,
show where you passed.
You were swift, swift!
here the forest ledge slopes-
rain has furrowed the roots.
Your hand caught at this;
the root snapped under your weight.
I can almost follow the note
where it touched this slender tree
and the next answered-
and the next.
And you climbed yet further!
you stopped by the dwarf-cornel-
whirled on your heels,
doubled on your track.
This is clear-
you fell on the downward slope,
you dragged a bruised thigh-you limped-
you clutched this larch.
Did your head, bent back,
clear through the green leaf-moss
of the larch branches?
Did you clutch,
stammer with short breath and gasp:
wood-daemons grant life-
give life-I am almost lost.
For some wood-daemon
has lightened your steps.
I can find no trace of you
in the larch-cones and the underbrush.
About this poem
H.D. was born in Pennsylvania in 1886. She was awarded a medal from the American Academy of Arts and Letters for her works, which included numerous novels and collections of poetry. She died in Switzerland in July of 1961.
The Academy of American Poets is a nonprofit, mission-driven organization, whose aim is to make poetry available to a wider audience. Email The Academy at poem-a-day[at]poets.org.
This poem is in the public domain. Distributed by King Features Syndicate
What do I care
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