Win her with poetry, his devious friend told him.
He read it over and over. John Donne. Over and over, memorizing.
It’s two miles to her farm, over the small hill, across the grassy field, then the big. Then her farm house is on the far side of the copse.
He tries not to sweat too much as he walks. His heart beats a bit faster as he clears the big hill. He’s been saying the lines over and over in his mind.
He comes around the maples. She’s sitting on the porch. His heart leaps. There she is.
Uh, hi. The sweat trickles down the side of his face. Is she looking at that line of sweat? Does it disgust her?
Sweetest love, I do not go,
For weariness of thee,
Nor in hope the world can show
A fitter love for me;
But since that I
Must at die last, ‘tis best
To use myself in jest
Thus by feigned deaths to die [i]
God, how his voice shook. How weak did he sound? She only glanced at him, with untelling eyes.
Mostly she gazed across the grass toward the tress. What is that look on her face? Boredom? Disgust?
She looks at him. What does that mean?
Abruptly, unhurriedly, she turns.
She has gone in the house.
Alone, he stares at the empty porch. He tastes cotton and humiliation.
[i] “Song” by John Donne. John Donne: The Complete English Poems. Penguin Books, London. 1996 edition.