August 1964

8:30 a.m.

Belle wakes and immediately thinks of her mother, Paule, the Parisienne. She remembers standing with Maman on the banks of the St. Lawrence, where it is met by the Saguenay river, and watching the spouts of fin whales far out in the channel. She turns over on her other side, half asleep, and for a moment she cannot think where she is. Maman is singing a song from her early childhood, of which the refrain is "je prefererais le lait de ma nourrice," I prefer my nurse's milk. She is smiling. Belle turns over again and thinks: no, it is 1964, Maman is dead, I am in Brooklyn.

She rises from her bed and goes into the bathroom, where she takes off her nightgown and stands naked in front of the full length mirror. Je ne suis pas belle, she thinks as she does every morning. She finds her face too round, cheeks wide, her hips broad and her legs too short. She knows that her husband, Charles Chalfin, loves her and has a great physical passion for her, and that other men, such as Terry Lazare of the Brooklyn College philosophy department, have always seemed to be highly attracted to her. My blue eyes, my breasts and my skin are my best features. Because of her complexion, people often think she is much younger than her thirty years. Belle thinks it is her Quebec accent, her air of difference that makes her attractive to American men.

Belle showers and puts the day's make-up on. She has already looked out the window and she can tell from the blue, still sky over the backyard that it is going to be another hot day, though it is cool now. She puts on a light blue sundress and goes to the kitchen, where her typewriter awaits. She makes toast which she spreads with Bonne Maman jelly and brews a pot of coffee.

She lights the day's first cigarette, a filterless Chesterfield. The cigarette company has some type of promotion going on; there are two bright pennies under the clear plastic covering the pack. She puts them in the jar on the windowsill.

The kitchen is sunny and has a window onto East Twenty-first street. One of the features Belle liked best about the house is that you could look from the kitchen window into the street in front. It is her place of comfort, where she spends her time when Charlie, the state assemblyman, is in Albany. On the table, behind the ashtray and the typewriter, is a vase of sunflowers, Belle's favorite. The thick wooden table and chairs were made by her brother-in-law, Ian Chalfin, who is now serving in Viet Nam. On the table is a letter from Ian which arrived yesterday and which she has not yet opened. Belle finds Ian's letters very upsetting.

It is the summer break at Brooklyn College, but Belle has continued to work part time just for the distraction. The legislature is in recess, so Charlie has been around more than usual, but this weekend he has gone to Washington with a delegation of New York politicians to meet President Johnson. There will be a barbecue on the White House lawn today. Belle was mildly disappointed when she learned wives were not invited, but not greatly, as she loves her house, doesn't like to travel in the summer (nor is she greatly drawn to it any other time) and does not care all that much about meeting famous people.

Belle finishes her breakfast and sits down at the typewriter. She has been typing articles for two of the faculty, George Duhamel and her friend Terry Lazare, but she has also recently been trying some translations of her own, which she hasn't shown to anyone but Terry. It is Sunday, and she decides to be self-indulgent and work only on her own stuff. She turns the pages of a book of Rimbaud's poems and selects one called Le Mal to translate. It is on the topic of war and it makes her think of Ian in Viet Nam.

.She often postpones reading Ian's letters because they are depressing. When he is not talking of suicide, he is professing mad love for Belle. She has shown the letters to Charlie, so as not to have secrets. He shrugged and smiled: Ian is crazy but harmless.

Ian is a quarter-century younger than Charlie and his twin, Bernard. His mother was a cleaning lady the old man had toward the end of his life. Nobody knew she was his mistress. She went back to Argentina, and he placed the child in an austere home run by a Catholic order of monks. Bernard found out about Ian and took him in when the old man died. He has been in Viet Nam for ten months, in the rangers.

Belle has tried but she cannot comprehend Viet Nam. Charlie has spent hours explaining geopolitics, the domino theory, the battle of light against darkness. She thinks: I know I am intelligent, but it doesn't add up to anything in my mind. Nothing there except terror, people slipping in blood. She remembers a passage Charlie showed her in a book about World War II: a Russian tank stopped over a foxhole and drove its treads in forward then reverse until it made the German soldiers below into a bloody mess. Like feeding them into a blender, Charlie said.

Ian never says clearly what he is doing, but in the background of his letters are shadows slipping by like sharks.


She has been lost in thought, saying the poem out loud to herself, and has typed only a few lines when the phone rings. She picks it up and says, "Hello, Trina ," for only her Sicilian sister-in-law would call her so early on a Sunday.

Trina is married to Bernard Chalfin, Charlie's fraternal twin, who is taller and harder-looking than he is. She is beautiful and dark, with an oval face and thick black hair. She never smiles, and always wears an expression of either rage or disappointment. She is almost ten years older than Belle, and is very reserved with her. Trina in fact usually seems to be mentally elsewhere, away from her son John, away from her marriage. Trina is the unhappiest person Belle knows. Belle always understood that Bernard, who sometimes dominates Charlie too, is brutal, but she only learned recently from Charlie that Bernard beats Trina.

Trina sometimes reminds Belle of Maman, who had a very similar dark beauty. When Maman was depressed, she also had that air of being elsewhere; Belle has seen John, who is twelve, orbit around Trina trying to get her attention, the way Belle once did around Maman.

Maman had an animation Trina lacks; she was feverish and bright. Belle adored her Maman. From age ten until her marriage, she had only her. Gray tired papa, who loved Belle but couldn't do very much, died. The farm was sold and after a few months, Maman and Belle went to live in Quebec. Eight years later, mother and daughter were working at the Chateau Frontenac when Charlie and Bernard came up for the weekend. After a "whirlwind courtship", Belle married Charlie.

Both men transplanted their wives from other countries, without any family. Trina is twelve years younger than Bernard. Belle is twenty years younger than Charlie.

Trina is never actually nasty to Belle; it is more as if she just doesn't notice her most of the time. Today she needs something: Bernard has decreed that John must go to the beach. Trina is feeling sick and doesn't want to take him. Would Belle?

Belle has already decided to accept an invitation from Terry Lazare to meet him and his daughter at the beach. Taking John, whom she loves, would be a pleasure. John could certainly play with Terry's daughter and his niece, who will also be there.

Trina says she will drop John off in an hour.


Belle has typed a few more lines when she looks out the window and sees Eric Menotti , the schizophrenic boy from across the street, wandering off by himself. He is a lovely boy, very sweet and harmless, who believes he is a lost rocket in space. He is never supposed to go outdoors without his mother, Elora. Eric turns to wait for Belle as she comes down the walk. The air is already very hot. Belle hears Sunday morning sounds: cicadas and sprinklers. Eric follows her back into the house and sits in one of Ian's chairs, studying the grain in the wood, while Belle pours him some orange juice. He drinks it and asks for some paper. Belle gives him some sheets of typewriter paper and a pencil and Eric draws two portraits, one of his mother (whom he makes elderly) and one of Belle (whom he draws as she is, but a bit romanticized; Belle thinks the portrait is more beautiful than she is.) Belle had no idea Eric was so talented. She calls Elora and gets her on the second try, but tells her there is no hurry. Belle likes Eric and finds him very interesting. Eric speaks of comets, asteroids, moons and a bad planet, which exerts a powerful pull on him.

Belle remembers a church, St. Anne de Beaupre, on the coast between Quebec City and Saguenay, which has the reputation of curing the afflicted. Inside the front entrance there is always a pile of crutches and braces people have left there. Belle is only mildly religious and goes to church rarely, but she believes in miracles. When Maman was very unhappy, we would sometimes make a trip to St. Anne's. We had no car but they ran buses every Sunday from in front of the Chateau. We knelt down and prayed there. I remember believing as a child that God could not help us because our wounds were not visible. We had nothing like a crutch to leave behind.

Belle thinks it would do no harm for Elora to take Eric to St. Anne's and decides to suggest it.

Elora's husband Carlo, an electrical engineer, left her eight years ago when it became clear that Eric was schizophrenic. Before that, they thought their child was a fantasist with a liking for astronomy. Carlo insisted that Eric be institutionalized, and when Elora wouldn't give him up, Carlo left. He is somewhere out West now, and sends money. He has married again, but Elora fears she will never find a man who will tolerate Eric, and with her boy on her hands, has no time to meet anyone anyway. Eric is a full-time job.

Elora knocks at the front door and Belle lets her in . She is wearing a housecoat. Belle has always thought Italian women are very beautiful, and Elora in particular. She is Trina's age, but the opposite of her: she has a lighter complexion and her face is elastic and expressive. Every emotion Elora has is immediately visible: sadness, compassion, love and joy. Elora, who is the most exhausted woman Belle has ever met, can still laugh. Belle likes Elora best of all the women she knows.

Elora visits for a few minutes, then takes Eric home. Belle realizes she has forgotten to mention St. Anne's. She resolves she will telephone Elora later.


Trina pulls up in front of the house in Bernard's black Cadillac, and John runs up the steps to hug Belle . He is a handsome boy who seems completely unaware of his good looks. Trina always seems to distance herself from him. John knows his mother is silent and remote, yet doesn't present the usual loneliness or anger of the unwanted. He is like Belle, manufacturing his life from the available materials.

Belle adores John. In the early years, she was afraid to pay him more attention than his mother did, but she relaxed when she concluded that Trina either didn't care or was happy to have someone else give John affection.

Belle goes down the walk to greet Trina, who does not get out of the car. Trina leans out the car window and Belle kisses her on both cheeks. Trina kisses the air.

She doesn't meet Belle's eye, and drives away as soon as she can.

John is dressed in his bathing suit and carrying a little duffel bag which he opens for Belle. He has a change of clothes, a towel and some toy dinosaurs, including his favorite, Junior. Belle, who had lost track of time, is not yet dressed for the beach, nor has she bought the ingredients for her dinner. She asks John if he would like to come to the grocery with her, and he replies politely he would rather play on the tile floor of the kitchen with his dinosaurs if that is permitted. Belle leaves him arranging them, one per tile, and walks around the corner to Fresh Foods.

She selects a small steak and a large tomato. The store is not yet crowded and there is only one woman ahead of Belle in the check-out line. Mr. Charlton , the owner, is at the register. He is a fifty-ish man, handsome and distinguished looking, who always has a sad expression. He is respectful to Belle, but distant.

Mr. Charlton reminds Belle of her father, Jean-Claude Durieux. Papa was also distinguished, tired and sad. He grew up in Saguenay but wanted to be a professor in Paris. He read all kinds of books, which Belle also does but Maman did not. The weight of his family, Saguenay and responsibility kept him from leaving and he became a farmer, like the generations before him. He went to Paris for a few months to find a wife and came back with Maman. This was a radical act, as everyone wanted him to marry a cousin. He was fifty when Belle was born. She remembers him as a kind man with no energy who gave her an affectionate word and a pat before going to sleep at eight o'clock every night.

Papa died of a bad brain, rather a bad bubble in his brain, when Belle was ten. There were substantial debts, which the farm had to be sold to satisfy. Maman waited a few months, in the guest-house which they rented from the farm's new owner, for the family to offer to take her in. Of Jean-Claude's five siblings only one, a sister, made any kind of offer: she and her husband would take Belle, but not Maman. The next day, Maman and Belle went to Quebec City, where they lived for the next eight years.

Belle has a theory that Elora and Mr. Charlton would be good together. Mr. Charlton takes care of a brother, who is his partner in the store but who everyone thinks is simple-minded. The brother and Eric could distract each other. Belle believes that Mr. Charlton, who never married, has depths of tenderness no-one has ever explored. The last time Eric was at Belle's house, she suggested Mr. Charlton to Elora. Elora said she had already thought of him, and the women discussed ways that Elora could proceed to let him know she liked him.

She returns to the house and finds John playing contentedly on the floor. She goes up to change into her bikini and puts on a bathing suit cover with a sunflower pattern. She looks out the bathroom window into the backyard and realizes that in this moment, she is perfectly happy.

On the way to Jones Beach, Belle drives exactly fifty miles an hour in the slow lane of the Southern State. John is sitting next to her in the front seat and wants to lean on her. She protests at first, because it is hard enough to drive the big Cadillac without an importunate child. Not wishing to hurt John's feelings, she adjusts herself to make it possible, but resolves to ask Charlie again to buy her a smaller car. Belle and Charlie have been trying to have a child of their own for three years. No luck. They don't know if the problem lies with Belle or with Charlie. They thought they wanted a baby, but neither of them did badly enough to make going to doctors worthwhile. Charlie probably doesn't want to know if its him. Belle might be relieved to find out she is barren. She has very mixed feelings about children. She loves spending time with John, but it forces her to function at a higher level, to expend more energy, than she does in the rest of her life. Her daily routine of shopping, working at Brooklyn College or at home, talking to neighbors and watching television in the evenings is like a pleasant dream. She has no aspirations beyond it. Charlie is mainly a weekend visitor; though she must do things with him she wouldn't otherwise do, she has become used to the routine and it doesn't disturb her. With Charlie there are no dramatics. Children cry and can't be consoled, or have nightmares and must be comforted. At the end of a day with John, who is an undemanding child, she always feels fulfilled but exhausted, ready to slip back into her quiet routine.

Belle believes that human beings are born with a limited store of energy to expend during life. She used up most of hers during the eight years she spent alone in Quebec with Maman. Belle survived but not with enough left over to live an intense life in Brooklyn with Charlie.

After the sale of the farm, there was just enough money to live on for a few years. Belle went to Catholic school and never knew which Maman she would find when she came home each day: the passive heap under the quilts, too sad to speak, or the febrile beauty planning parties and outings. Maman drank, when she was happy and when she was sad. Mostly brandy. There were times when Belle had to be her mother's mother and she dispensed what she would otherwise have saved for a child of her own.

1:30 p.m.

Belle is remorseful to be half an hour late. Her intentions were good, but somehow, while shopping, changing clothes and looking after John, she slipped behind.

She can tell that Terry is angry and had thought she would not come . He is with two girls, four and ten. Belle has not met them before, but knows from conversations with Terry that the four year old is his daughter, Samantha, and the other one, who is a charmer, is his niece Lina.

Terry is a tall, thin man, with receding hair and a graying mustache. He is very handsome and looks like that French actor, Henri something, who always plays dilettantes, professors and peres de famille. He is very slightly built and Belle knows that Charlie and Bernard, who are both broad and strong, would sneer at his lack of musculature.

Terry is in another department than Belle's but is doing some translations of Barthes with which she is assisting. Belle had never had a male friend and is thrilled there is someone with whom she can talk about books---and in French! The first few months of their friendship were delightful. Unfortunately, Terry then began to desire her and has been larding their conversations with crude offers and pleas ever since. Belle doesn't understand why men and women can't like each other without the sex thing always intervening.

She will send Terry away if she ever feels she can't control him. The method by which she has always handled men--- looking them in the eye and saying, "I don't want to," with no hesitation or coquetry---still works with him. She would feel lonely if she didn't have Terry, so she tolerates his insinuations more than she would like.

Terry has sometimes asked if she would have married him had she met him before Charlie. She says no, of course, so as not to encourage his advances. Then one day, while working in her kitchen, surrounded by curlicues of cigarette smoke and dancing dust motes, she asks herself this question seriously and is surprised by the answer: obviously yes.

Terry is much closer than Charlie to the model of the man she would have wanted. She always thought she would wed an intellectual, a university professor if possible. Charlie has peasant good looks, but Terry is patrician. She enjoys his insights, his irony, and his quiet sense of superiority.

As it happened, there wasn't time to wait for a Terry. Charlie was the one who came along, the first eligible man to propose.

In Quebec, after the bad times, Maman straightened up, stopped drinking, and began to try very hard to make a good life for Belle. Belle went to a two year college and acquired strong English language and typing skills. Maman visited some old acquaintances and got herself a job behind the front desk at the Chateau Frontenac. It was something she already knew how to do--- Papa found her behind the desk at the hotel he stayed at when he went to Paris in search of a wife. She was still very beautiful and had a sophisticated, melancholy air that appealed to everyone. When Belle got her degree, Maman got her a position as a bilingual secretary at the hotel.

In the fall of 1954, Maman was diagnosed with inoperable breast cancer and knew she didn't have long. She told Belle that the arthritis made it hard for her to work and that she was tired. She said, It is time for you to marry, and she began arranging dates for Belle with certain men who stopped at the Frontenac. Belle was frightened, because Maman's manner was wild and desperate again, like in the old days. Belle was attracted to older men, and Maman (herself twenty years younger than Papa) had excellent taste, so Maman never selected anyone Belle didn't find interesting. But she knew that sooner or later, management would get angry at Maman for arranging dates with the clients. Just when Belle thought life was stable again, Maman had begun to teeter, and might pull them back into the swamp of their earlier days in the city.

Charles Chalfin was the third man with whom Maman set Belle up. On the fourth date, he invited her to New York, but not as his wife. Belle refused. Three weeks later, he was back proposing marriage and she accepted. He was handsome and very kind, she might as well marry him as another, and it was what Maman wanted.

On the night of Belle's wedding, Maman told her she would not be coming to New York with her. She said that a newly married couple must enjoy themselves alone for at least a few months. I will come later. A few weeks later, Belle had a card from Maman in Paris. There is some family business here I must take care of. I will write soon. Belle was delighted with her new life and didn't worry too much about Maman. The next news was that she was dead. A letter composed months earlier arrived, mailed by an uncle Belle had never met. Do not question why I am gone. I am so sorry I lied to you, but I had to get you placed and you would never have left me.

Whose arms cradle you, with whom do you feel safe and overwhelmed by love, who makes you want to die? Only maman, Belle tells herself. Not any man. I was not made for love.

She spreads out her beach towel and hesitates for a moment before taking off the bathing suit cover. She knows Terry will look at her with desire, and she does not want that. But the wish to feel the sun on her stomach is stronger. She undresses and Terry's eyes explore her.

She lies down. The children have run down to the water to play. Terry begins the nagging conversation, in French. She deflects him and thinks about taking a nap.


Belle decides to get away from Terry by spending some time by the water with Samantha . She has noticed that Terry seems not to care very much for his daughter, who is four years old. Belle sits next to her in the shallows while Samantha tells her a long, involved story about some ants. She is a little, serious girl with black bangs over a big forehead. Belle finds her extremely appealing. When Samantha pauses, Belle asks, Would you like to sit in my lap? Samantha immediately comes to her, and Belle falls in love at that instant. If I had a little girl, she says, I would want her to be just like you. She thinks, I should say to Terry: if you don't want her, I will take her.


Lina, on the other hand, is like Belle before Papa died . Merry, careless, intent on pleasure, very spoiled. She has never suffered. I wonder what is in store for you. Belle has noticed many times that she likes people best who don't remind her of herself. She likes Samantha better than Lina, who is pretty and bossy and has no use for her smart little cousin. Lina tries to enlist Belle on her side, calling Samantha "the slug". Belle won't play along. When she tries to smile at Lina a few moments later, she feels her expression is forced. Lina loses interest in Belle and runs down the beach after John.


Samantha is hungry and Belle, who has been looking for more excuses to flee importunate Terry, takes her to the concession stand. A twenty-five year old man with muscles so large they make his bullet head look tiny, plants himself in front of Belle and stares into her eyes. He is the epitome of everything Belle detests. She looks through him and turns away. He comes to stand next to her at the counter, so close she can smell his sweat and his cheap cologne. She makes a sound of disgust and moves away.


Belle already loves John, but she is very impressed by his concern for Samantha. He gives her Junior to play with and listens to her stories, even though that means keeping Lina at arm's length. The ten year old has chased him up and down the beach most of the afternoon, trying to get his attention.


It is time to head home. Belle is disappointed in Terry; he was unbearable and spoiled the afternoon. She is still glad she came, because she met Samantha and spent time with John. She kisses the little girl goodbye. Can I ride home with you? Samantha asks. If your father wants you to, Belle says. Samantha runs off and Belle looks for Lina. The ten year old is on the far side of Terry's car, looking away with a bored expression which says to Belle, I am ignoring you. Terry calls, Thanks, Belle, but I'll take her. He looks desperately unhappy, like he didn't get what he wanted from the afternoon either.


When she arrives home, Bernard Chalfin is waiting on the porch. Where's my son, he asks.

I just dropped him off at your house, with Trina.

Oh, Trina's home?

Belle looks at him, astonished he doesn't know this. She never liked Bernard, even before she knew he hit Trina.

Where was she this afternoon, Belle?

I have no idea.

I think you do.

Belle wants to enter the house, take a shower, and cook dinner.

I don't lie, Bernard. Trina asked me to take John to the beach. She said she didn't feel well.

She was out all day.

Its news to me.

If Charlie managed you properly, you wouldn't help my wife run around, and you wouldn't talk to me this way, without respect.

I am not a horse or an acre of land, to be managed.

We'll see about that, Bernard says. He gets back in the huge black Cadillac and drives off.

Elora and Eric come out on the street. Elora is waving excitedly. I've been waiting for you. She arrives in front of Belle, quite breathless. I took your advice.

What advice?

I asked Mr. Charlton to dinner. He's coming at seven.

Elora, I suggested that two months ago!

Seeing you this morning reminded me. I went to Fresh Foods and asked his opinion a cut of meat, new potatoes, greens and a pie for dessert. Then I asked if he would come and eat with me.

That's wonderful! What did he say?

He was so surprised and pleased, Belle. He couldn't stop smiling! He stuttered! He said, I'd b-b-b-be honored! He ran after me out of the store and said, I have a special b-b-b-bottle of wine I've b-b-b-been saving. May I b-b-b-bring it?

Eric can visit with me if you like.

Thank you so much, Belle, you're a good friend, but I think it would be better if Eric is there, don't you Eric? I'd like him to meet Mr. Charlton. Eric likes him already, don't you Eric?

Yes. He's a sad asteroid.

Belle leans over and kisses Eric on the cheek. She smooths the place she kissed with her fingertips. Elora is speechless. Belle kisses Elora too, touches her cheek, and goes into the house.


Belle is in the shower, thinking about how she and Maman committed suicide. Belle was fifteen. The money had run out and Maman had been drinking for a week. For two days, Maman said over and over that they should die. Belle agreed, because she always did whatever Maman wanted. Maman emptied the red Seconal capsules into a brandy for herself and a lemonade for Belle. They drank and fell asleep, cradled in each other's arms in Maman's fluffy pink bed.

Belle woke and maman was crying. Belle asked if they were in heaven and Maman said, No, its Friday. She was kissing Belle's hands and begging forgiveness.

They had been asleep four days. Belle felt heavy and strange through the weekend. The sense that she had really died and entered the next world did not leave her for some weeks.

After that, Maman was active, Belle was very calm.

What did I do to you, my darling. Please laugh. Dance for me, like you did before.


Belle is back in the kitchen. The steak is in the oven. Belle has cut the fat tomato up into slices, which she eats with a fork. It has a pale, chemical taste, nothing like the tomatoes of her childhood.

The phone rings: it is the usual hour for Charlie . She picks up the phone and says hello to her old friend. How she thinks of him.

Hello, doll, he says. What are you doing?

Eating my dinner.

I just met the President.

Was that very exciting?

I was dripping with sweat, doll. I shook his hand with a wet palm and I thought, Great. Now I'll never be in the cabinet.

Belle laughs.

I am sure he perceived your intelligence, charm and talent and will phone you tomorrow asking you to be his Minister of Justice.

This is America, doll. We have an attorney general, not a minister. What did you do today?

I took John to the beach with Terry Lazare and his daughter and niece.

Belle didn't know she was going to tell him until she did. But why not? She did nothing wrong. Just because Terry lies to his spouse doesn't mean Belle has to deceive hers.

No wife?

No. She didn't feel well.

Should I be worried?

What do you think?

I'm not worried, Charlie decides. How was John?

John is a love.

She wants to tell him about Bernard, but decides not to bother him with this until he comes home.

When will you be back?

Tomorrow. Fogerty is taking us out for a dinner tonight to talk about the old times. Do you know what I can see from my window?

A tree. The White House.

A waiter's race. They are carrying full wineglasses down the block to see who can go the fastest without spilling a drop.

I imagine that would be very hard.

I love you, doll.

I love you too, minou.

She hangs up and returns to the table to continue her translation. She sees Ian's letter, opens it and reads it . It makes her very sad. Unlike Terry, he is asking nothing of her but she feels he is lost in a childish illusion of courtly love. She would be happy to be his friend but cannot be his icon.

As usual, the letter contains one frightening phrase: looking for God in the smell of the gasoline. What gasoline is that? She decides it is the jeep fuel that he smells when he drives down the highway.

She repeats another phrase from the letter:

Pray for us now and at the hour of our deaths.


Belle has finished her translation of Le Mal. She is not very satisfied with it. She reads it over while drinking a glass of brandy. In a minute she will go upstairs and prepare for bed.

While the red spittle of the machine guns
Whistles all day long in the infinite blue sky;
And soldiers, scarlet or green, near the king who rallies them,
Crumple in heaps under fire;

While a terrible folly breaks
And makes of a hundred thousand men a fuming mass,
--Pathetic dead! In the summer, in the grass, in your joy!
Nature! You who fashioned them in sanctity!....

There is a God, who laughs at damask altar cloths,
At incense, at great gold chalices;
Who sleeps, cradled by hosannahs,

And wakes, when mothers, racked with anguish,
And weeping under their decrepit bonnets,
Give him a bright penny wrapped in a handkerchief.