Belly Shelter

The hills were green and so were we
but not in the way men talk about
we had not known death
nor walked with stain
for all was bright about the hand

We had not known death
yet the sparrows ring
set like a wreath upon the marsh
marked for all that shivered cross
in cast-off clothes himself cast-off

In sun and wind his trampling drum
the high grass knew his shuffling
kindness wrapped his being mild
his countenance moved the brethren

The stench and sense of aimless wrath
now we know death not so the man
a wildflower stowed in ragged breast
the hills are grieved their innocence

DEATH OF A TRAMP by Patti Smith
from her book of poetry Auguries of Innocence


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