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Snake in the Strawberries

Text of Poem

This lovely girl dressed in lambswool thoughts
dances a tune in the sunshine, a tune like a bright path
leading to that soft cloud curled up like a girl
in her sleep, but she stops at the strawberry bed
carrying nothing but joy in her basket and it falls 
to the ground. Oh-h-h-h-h, her red lips round out
berries of sound but the berries under her feet are
not startled though they sway ever so slightly
as life long-striped and winding congeals into
form, driving its red tongue into her breast
forever marking its presence and turning into a shiver
barely a thread of motion in the clusters of green leaves.
She stands now as cold as marble now with the thought
coiled around her, the image of her thought holding her
tightly in its folds for it is part of her now and dimly
like faint sobbing she knows that part of her crawls
forever among green leaves and light grasses, it is the same
shiver that shakes her now and now her hair tumbles slightly
and now she feels disheveled but the spell breaks finally.
For the warm sun has not changed and maybe the tune
of her coming still floats in the air but the path
no longer ends in the cloud. She fills her basket taking
the richest ripe berries for this is what she came to do,
she touches her breast a minute and then the ground
feeling beneath her fingers the coiled muscles
of a cold fear that seems so dark and secret
beside the warm colors of the sunlight
splashing like blood on the heaped fruit in her basket.

First Line
This lovely girl dressed in lambswool thoughts
Original Pub Location
Original Publication Date
Original Citation
The Sun at Noon. Muscatine, Iowa: The Prairie Press, 1943. 30.
Complete Poems
Hearst Collections
Word Count

Pals says variant versions, but not comparing versions in Complete and The Sun

Poetic Form
References and Commentary
Pals, Brian "James Hearst's Constructed Regionalism" North American Review blog. 16 May 2014. Online.
Is this the most frequently reprinted Hearst poem?
Twitter Quote
it is the same / shiver that shakes her now and now her hair tumbles slightly