The Panther Woman

By Nora May French

I face the tranquil day with tranquil eyes
On high sea-hills my cheeks are cold with mist,
In white foam-fingers quick desire dies.

Dies as a strangled bird the wave has torn--
Ay, drowns and dies this winged desire of mine
In white sea fingers of the tidal morn.

But I would kill the restless silken night
And I would still the wings that beat the dark,
And grasp the little throat of heart-delight,

And drown the savage will that understands
How love would laugh to clasp your bending head,
How love would hold your face in her two hands,

How love would press your angry lips apart,
And leave the willful bruising of her kiss
In the sweet satin flesh above your heart.

This fascinating poem has evidently never been published, although Judith Allen included it in her unpublished 1963 Mills College M.A. thesis on Nora May French. Written in Nora May French's hand, "The Panther Woman" can be found in the James Hopper Collection at the Bancroft.
-- Pamela Herr