Poem and Short Story

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The Spouse 
by Luis Dato

Rose in her hand, and moist eyes young with weeping,
She stands upon the threshold of her house,
Fragrant with scent that wakens love from sleeping,
She looks far down to where her husband plows.

Her hair dishevelled in the night of passion,
Her warm limbs humid with the sacred strife,
What may she know but man and woman fashion
Out of the clay of wrath and sorrow—Life?

She holds no joys beyond the day’s tomorrow,
She finds no worlds beyond her love’s embrace;
She looks upon the Form behind the furrow,
Who is her Mind, her Motion, Time and Space.

O somber mystery of eyes unspeaking,
O dark enigma of Life’s love forlorn;
The Sphinx beside the river smiles with seeking
The secret answer since the world was born.

Mill of the Gods (Estrella Alfon)
Among us who lived in Espeleta – that street that I love, about whose people I keep telling tales – among us, I say, there was one named Martha, and she was the daughter of Pio and Engracia.

To all of us, life must seem like a road given us to travel, and it is up to Fate, that convenient blunderer, whether, that road be broad and unwinding, or whether it shall be a tortuous lane, its path a hard and twisted mat of dust and stones. And each road, whether lane or avenue, shall have its own landmarks, that only the traveller soul shall recognize and remember, and remembering, continue the journey again. To Martha, the gods gave this for a first memory: a first scar.

She was a girl of twelve, and in every way she was but a child. A rather dull child, who always lagged behind the others of her age, whether in study or in play. Life had been so far a question of staying more years in a grade than the others, of being told she would have to apply herself a little harder if she didn’t want the infants catching up with her. But that was so dismal thing. She had gotten a little bit used to being always behind. To always being the biggest girl in her class. Even in play there was some part of her that never managed to take too great a part – she was so content if they always made her “it” in a game of tag, if only they would let her play. And when she had dolls, she was eager to lend them to other girls, if they would only include her in the fascinating games she could not play alone.

This was she, then. Her hair hung in pigtails each side of her face, and already it irked a little to have her dresses too short. She could not help in her mother’s kitchen, and could be trusted to keep her room clean, but she was not ready for the thing her mother told her one night when she was awakened from sleep.

It was a sleep untroubled by dreams, then all of a sudden there was an uproar in the house, and she could hear her mother’s frenzied sobbing, and it was not sobbing that held as much of sorrow as it did of anger. She lay still for a while, thinking perhaps she was dreaming, until she could hear her father’s grunted answers to the half – understood things her mother was mouthing at him. Then there were sounds that was clearly the sound of two bodies struggling in terrible fury with each other. She stood up, and like a child, cried into the night. Mother?

She wailed the word, in her panic finding a little relief in her own wailing, Mother? And she heard her mother’s voice call her, panting out, saying, Martha, come quickly, come into this room!

Martha got up and stood at the door of the room, hesitating about opening it, until her mother, the part of a terrible grasp, said Martha! So Martha pushed in the door, and found her mother and her father locked in an embrace in which both of them struggled and panted and had almost no breath left for words. Martha stood wide – eyed and frightened, not knowing what to do, just standing there, even though she had seen what it was they struggled for. A kitchen knife, blade held upwards in her mother’s hand. Her arms were pinioned to her sides by her husband, but her wild eyes, the frenzy with...
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