Boyd Spahr

Only a Woman’s Heart (1866)

While the husband and wife were talking together, Laura wandered out into the wings, listening to the orchestra, which was now sending forth its premonitory strains. The employees of the theatre looked curiously upon this very beautiful and elegantly attired lady, but did not disturb her, when she took possession of a battered chair, and settled herself in a corner. As soon as the overture was finished, she ran back to Julia, and found her in the green-room, where Willister had indiscreetly taken her. There the young ladies of the ballet, supposed to be the august guests of the house of “Capulet,” stood, dizzened out in tarleton and much cheap, tarnished finery. There, also, was “Juliet’s” lady mother, attired in a rusty cotton-velvet dress, with huge and horrible triangles of coarse crochet sewn up the waist and front of the skirt, and with a miscellaneous jumble of emaciated wax beads, sprinkled all over her. The “nurse,” too, loomed up among them, in monstrous cap and pre-Raphaelite gown. They were all staring at the shrinking debutant, with eyes of curious contempt and dismaying pity. It occurred to Laura, as she looked, on this scene, that all these people were simply sapping Julia

The Gem of the Mines (1866)

While the dinner was preparing, our party busied themselves by looking about the premises and asking the use of this thing and the name of that, but to all their questions were answered in Spanish, of which they knew but very little, and some of them nothing: but supposing they would be thought unfriendly by the natives if they remained silent, they kept up a continual talking, though to no purpose, as they could neither make themselves intelligible nor understand those with whom they conversed. When dinner was served there presided at the table a woman whom they had not before seen, middle aged, rather swarthy complexion, though many shades lighter than those by whom she was surrounded, and speaking the English language though broken and mixed with that of the natives, which indicated that she had been there many years and partially forgotten her mother tongue, or, that she had seen much more of Americans, and acquired a knowledge of the language, when no one of her female associates seemed to know a word of it. She brought wine and eggs, bananas, cocoanuts, and other tropical fruits, and urged them to partake, entering into lively and spirited conversation with Julia

Evenings at Donaldson Manor (1851)

Two years in the future! How almost interminable seems the prospect to our hopes or our affections!—but let Time turn his perspective glass—let us look at it in the past, and how it shrinks and becomes as a day in the history of our lives. So was it with Philip Oswald’s two years of absence, when he found himself, in the earliest dawn of the spring of 1838, once more in New-York. Yet that time had not passed without leaving traces of its passage—traces in the changes affecting those around him—yet deeper traces in himself. He arrived in the afternoon of an earlier day than that on which he had been expected. In the evening Mrs. Oswald persuaded him to assume, for the gratification of her curiosity, the picturesque costume worn by him in his western home. He had just re-entered her room, and she was yet engaged in animated observation of the hunting-shirt, strapped around the waist with a belt of buckskin, the open collar, and loosely knotted cravat, which, as the mother’s heart whispered, so well became that tall and manly form, when there was a slight tap at the door, and before she could speak, it opened, and Julia

Alban (1851)

Our hero came out of St. Paul’s into the thronged Broadway. Sights of this world assail him: a theatre, a museum, a Hotel de Ville, and “stores” without end: hat-stores, dry-goods-stores, book-stores, any kind of store you like! On the sidewalks are ladies in silken walking-dresses and colorful winter-bonnets, rich shawls and splendid cloaks—the most colorful promenade in civilization. They are shopping—shopping in the Broadway stores. It ought to be “storing,” or else the stores should be shops. Omnibuses, there are not many yet, but carriages and cabs not a few. A line of handsome ones extends along the north side of St. Paul’s: in London you would suppose they were private equipages. Then in front of the church, under the protecting image of the great Apostle in the pediment of the portico, are ranged the contradictions (in terms) of which Miss Sedgwick took notice—the Catholic orangemen with their rich brogue and baskets of golden fruit. These are things which have passed away already, i.e., the cabs and the orangemen: for a few years on this side of the Atlantic, make antiquity and give us a right to remember. But we dilly-dally here in Broadway, among the free and loitering crowd, whilst Julia

Boyd Spahr lives in Los Angeles, he's the author of the chapbook The Julias (Horse Less Press), and his poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Octopus, Sleepingfish, POOL, Alice Blue, DIAGRAM, Mississippi Review and elsewhere.
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