UNDER THE SHEET

What a terrible night! Does the Night, I wonder--
   The Night, with her black veil down to her feet
Like an ordained nun, know what lies under
   That awful, motionless, snow-white sheet?
The winds seem crazed, and, wildly howling,
   Over the sad earth blindly go.
Do they and the dark clouds over them scowling,
   Do they dream or know?

Why, here in the room, not a week or over--
   Tho' it must be a week, not more than one--
(I cannot reckon of late or discover
   When one day is ended or one begun),
But here in this room we were laughing lightly,
   And glad was the measure our two hearts beat;
And the royal face that was smiling so brightly
   Lies under that sheet.

I know not why--it is strange and fearful,
   But I am afraid of her, lying there;
She who was always so gay and cheerful,
   Lying so still with that stony stare:
She who was so like some grand sultana,
   Fond of color and glow and heat,
To lie there clothed in that awful manner
   In a stark white sheet.

She who was made out of summer blisses,
   Tropical, beautiful, gracious, fair,
To lie and stare at my fondest kisses--
   God! no wonder it whitens my hair.
Shriek, oh, wind! for the world is lonely;
   Trail cloud-veil to the nun Night's feet.
For all that I prized in life is only
   A shape and a sheet.

Kingdom of love and How Salvator won by Ella Wheeler Wilcox.
Chicago, W.B. Conkey company [1902].


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