Stains

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The three ghosts on the lonesome road
Spake each to one another,
“Whence came that stain about your mouth
No lifted hand may cover?”
“From eating of forbidden fruit,
Brother, my brother.”

The three ghosts on the sunless road
Spake each to one another,
“Whence came that red burn on your foot
No dust nor ash may cover?”
“I stamped a neighbor’s hearth-flame out,
Brother, my brother.”

The three ghosts on the windless road
Spake each to one another,
“Whence came that blood upon your hand
No other hand may cover?”
“From breaking of a woman’s heart,
Brother, my brother.”

“Yet on the earth clean men we walked,
Glutton and Thief and Lover;
White flesh and fair it hid our stains
That no man might discover.”
“Naked the soul goes up to God,
Brother, my brother.”

Theodosia Garrison, 1874-1944

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