Cannery Row Page 47

Even now

I mind the coming and talking of wise men from towers

Where they had thought away their youth. And I, listening,

Found not the salt of the whispers of my girl,

Murmur of confused colors, as we lay near sleep;

Little wise words and little witty words,

Wanton as water, honied with eagerness.

In the sink the high white foam cooled and ticked as the bubbles burst. Under the piers it was very high tide and the waves splashed on rocks they had not reached in a long time.

Even now

I mind that I loved cypress and roses, dear,

The great blue mountains and the small gray hills,

The sounding of the sea. Upon a day

I saw strange eyes and hands like butterflies;

For me at morning larks flew from the thyme

And children came to bathe in little streams.

Doc closed the book. He could hear the waves beat under the piles and he could hear the scampering of white rats against the wire. He went into the kitchen and felt the cooling water in the sink. He ran hot water into it. He spoke aloud to the sink and the white rats, and to himself:

Even now

I know that I have savored the hot taste of life

Lifting green cups and gold at the great feast.

Just for a small and a forgotten time

I have had full in my eyes from off my girl

The whitest pouring of eternal light

He wiped his eyes with the back of his hand. And the white rats scampered and scrambled in their cages. And behind the glass the rattlesnakes lay still and stared into space with their dusty frowning eyes.

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