THE LAST CREW
Spring found us early that
Seeming to know in her clairvoyant way
The bitterness of hunger and despair
That lay upon the town.
Out of the sheer
Thin altitudes of day
She drifted down
Over the grim blockade
At the harbor mouth,
Trailing her beauty over the decay
That war had made,
Gilding old ruins with her jasmine spray,
Distilling warm moist perfume
From chill winter shade.
Out of the south
She brought the whisperings
Of questing wings.
Then, flame on flame,
The cardinals came,
Blowing like driven brands
Up from the sultry lands
Where Summer’s happy fires always burn.
Old silences, that pain
Had held too close and long,
Stirred to the mocker’s song,
And hope looked out again
From tired eyes.
Down where the White Point
Gardens drank the sun,
And rippled to the lift of springing grass,
The women came;
And after them the aged, and the lame
That war had hurled back at them like a taunt.
And always, as they talked of little things,
How violets were purpling the shade
More early than in all remembered Springs,
And how the tides seemed higher than last year,
Their gaze went drifting out across the bay
Thrusting out of the mists,
Like hostile fists,
Waited the close blockade—
Then, dim to left and right,
The curving islands with their shattered mounds
That had been forts;
Mounds, which in spite
Of four long years of rending agony
Still held against the light;
Faint wraiths of color
For the breeze to lift
And flatten into faded red and white.
These sunny islands were not
meant for wars;
See, how they curve away
Before the bay,
Bidding the voyager pause.
Warm with the hoarded suns of centuries,
Young with the garnered youth of many Springs,
They laugh like happy bathers, while the seas
Break in their open arms,
And the slow-moving breeze
Draws languid fingers down their placid brows.
Even the surly ocean knows their charms,
And under the shrill laughter of the surf,
He booms and sings his heavy monotone.
There are rare nights among
When Spring first treads the meadows of the marsh,
Leaving faint footprints of elusive green
To glimmer as she strays,
Breaking the Winter silence with the harsh
Sharp call of waterfowl;
Rubbing dim shifting pastels in the scene
With white of moon
And blur of scudding cloud,
Until the myrtle thickets
And the sand,
The silent streams,
And the substantial land
Go drifting down the tide of night