Stormy Seas

The Venture rocked wildly as lighting flashed and thunder roared. I clutched the sides of my bunk as the ship pitched forward. I breathed deeply to soothe the queasiness in my stomach and said to myself, "Sailing is not always smooth!"

It had been a rough day at sea all day, forcing me to stay below deck. I'd been trying to sleep for an hour, but the continuing storm prevented me from relaxing in any manner. I sighed and thought to myself, "Thank goodness these lanterns are fully attached to the wall."

I balanced myself carefully, bracing myself against my bunk as I lit the lantern quickly. It gave off a soft yellow light, that was completely obliterated with each bright lightening flash. At least it would allow me to read in between the cabin-filling explosions of light. I reached under my bunk and withdrew a small leather volume, dark red in color....wedged myself into the corner at which point the bunk met the cabin wall...opened the book...and began to read.

Selected Poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay

First Fig

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;

But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends--
It gives a lovely light!

(From A Few Figs from Thistles. 1922.)

23. Bluebeard

Sonnet VI

This door you might not open, and you did;
So enter now, and see for what slight thing
You are betrayed…. Here is no treasure hid,
No cauldron, no clear crystal mirroring
The sought-for truth, no heads of women slain 5
For greed like yours, no writhings of distress,
But only what you see…. Look yet again—
An empty room, cobwebbed and comfortless.
Yet this alone out of my life I kept
Unto myself, lest any know me quite; 10
And you did so profane me when you crept
Unto the threshold of this room to-night
That I must never more behold your face.
This now is yours. I seek another place.

(From Renascence and Other Poems. 1917.)

13. The Dream

Love, if I weep it will not matter,
And if you laugh I shall not care;
Foolish am I to think about it,
But it is good to feel you there.

Love, in my sleep I dreamed of waking,— 5
White and awful the moonlight reached
Over the floor, and somewhere, somewhere,
There was a shutter loose,—it screeched!

Swung in the wind,—and no wind blowing!—
I was afraid, and turned to you, 10
Put out my hand to you for comfort,—
And you were gone! Cold, cold as dew,

Under my hand the moonlight lay!
Love, if you laugh I shall not care,
But if I weep it will not matter,— 15
Ah, it is good to feel you there!

(From Renascence and Other Poems. 1917.)

15. Witch-Wife

She is neither pink nor pale,
And she never will be all mine;
She learned her hands in a fairy-tale,
And her mouth on a valentine.

She has more hair than she needs; 5
In the sun ’tis a woe to me!
And her voice is a string of colored beads,
Or steps leading into the sea.

She loves me all that she can,
And her ways to my ways resign; 10
But she was not made for any man,
And she never will be all mine.

(From Renascence and Other Poems. 1917.)

5. Afternoon on a Hill

I will be the gladdest thing
Under the sun!
I will touch a hundred flowers
And not pick one.

I will look at cliffs and clouds 5
With quiet eyes,
Watch the wind bow down the grass,
And the grass rise.

And when lights begin to show
Up from the town, 10
I will mark which must be mine,
And then start down!

(From Renascence and Other Poems. 1917.)

I closed the book and realized that the Venture had stopped rocking so violently. The only light in my cabin came from the lantern on the wall, and the thunder was now only distant rumbling. I smiled. I made it through another storm. I placed the book back in my bag and curled up on my bunk...hoping that the days to come would prove to be easier.