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The House Of Dust: Part 02: 06: Adele And Davis Analysis

Author: Poetry of Conrad Aiken Type: Poetry Views: 140

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The House of Dust1917She turned her head on the pillow, and cried once more.

And drawing a shaken breath, and closing her eyes,

To shut out, if she could, this dingy room,

The wigs and costumes scattered around the floor,-

Yellows and greens in the dark,-she walked again

Those nightmare streets which she had walked so often . . .

Here, at a certain corner, under an arc-lamp,

Blown by a bitter wind, she stopped and looked

In through the brilliant windows of a drug-store,

And wondered if she dared to ask for poison:

But it was late, few customers were there,

The eyes of all the clerks would freeze upon her,

And she would wilt, and cry . . .Here, by the river,

She listened to the water slapping the wall,

And felt queer fascination in its blackness:

But it was cold, the little waves looked cruel,

The stars were keen, and a windy dash of spray

Struck her cheek, and withered her veins . . . And so

She dragged herself once more to home, and bed.Paul hadn't guessed it yet-though twice, already,

She'd fainted-once, the first time, on the stage.

So she must tell him soon-or else-get out . . .

How could she say it?That was the hideous thing.

She'd rather die than say it! . . . and all the trouble,

Months when she couldn't earn a cent, and then,

If he refused to marry her . . . well, what?

She saw him laughing, making a foolish joke,

His grey eyes turning quickly; and the words

Fled from her tongue . . .She saw him sitting silent,

Brooding over his morning coffee, maybe,

And tried again . . . she bit her lips, and trembled,

And looked away, and said . . . 'Say Paul, boy,-listen-

There's something I must tell you . . . 'There she stopped,

Wondering what he'd say . . .What would he say?

'Spring it, kid!Don't look so serious!'

'But what I've got to say-IS-serious!'

Then she could see how, suddenly, he would sober,

His eyes would darken, he'd look so terrifying-

He always did-and what could she do but cry?

Perhaps, then, he would guess-perhaps he wouldn't.

And if he didn't, but asked her 'What's the matter?'-

She knew she'd never tell-just say she was sick . . .

And after that, when would she dare again?

And what would he do-even suppose she told him?If it were Felix!If it were only Felix!-

She wouldn't mind so much.But as it was,

Bitterness choked her, she had half a mind

To pay out Felix for never having liked her,

By making people think that it was he . . .

She'd write a letter to someone, before she died,-

Just saying 'Felix did it-and wouldn't marry.'

And then she'd die . . .But that was hard on Paul . . .

Paul would never forgive her-he'd never forgive her!

Sometimes she almost thought Paul really loved her . . .

She saw him look reproachfully at her coffin.And then she closed her eyes and walked again

Those nightmare streets that she had walked so often:

Under an arc-lamp swinging in the wind

She stood, and stared in through a drug-store window,

Watching a clerk wrap up a little pill-box.

But it was late.No customers were there,-

Pitiless eyes would freeze her secret in her!

And then-what poison would she dare to ask for?

And if they asked her why, what would she say?


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