Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added) is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers. --John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture

Monday, December 05, 2011

from "The Throne of Psyche"


Here's a little gift for all you passers-by who are still making out your Christmas lists... And I'll be doing some recommendations soon.

This poem first appeared (along with some others by me) in a feature about Southern women poets in storySouth and was collected in my newest book, The Throne of Psyche (Mercer University Press, 2011.)




SOUTHERN TO THE BONE                                              


1.

To explain—as if she could!—
She says:  When I was young
And passing fair and strong
Like a girl in a fairy tale,
I ran from God and angels.
I flew to dark powers

--Though they aren’t dark but seeming-light,
With glamour on them like the fey—

And I frisked with the demons on the hills,
Then curled to sleep against their thighs,
A wing along my bow-bent spine.

I woke, dappled with dew.
And found that they had picked         
Me clean of clothes and more,
Treasures dear to me.

I was bereft.
I was:  weakness.
All-conquering. 

The rains
Began.

 
2.

She says:

Rain is rain is rain.
This was no rain but light,
Or not light but arrowy
Fine peltings of a fire
Shot slantwise through the skin
Until I could not tell
What was me from rain
Or light, and river waves
Not-rain-or-light-or-fire
Swamped me until I drowned
And washed into the sea,
To drift with sailor boys
Past luminous weeds and fish
Unto the roots of the world.


3.

Don’t ask her any more
What Southern really means,
Or why we just can’t quit
Mulling over a tale
Of rum and slaves and gold.

She married powers of dark.
She burned in bright rivers.

That’s why.



8 comments:

  1. Swimming in this!
    I love the sound of the depths, Marly!

    Southern.

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  2. Glad you leaped into my sea, Paul!

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  3. Outstanding. This is incredibly beautiful.

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  4. Thank you, Miss Robbi of Philadelphia and California. For a small person, you picked long names.

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  5. Compensation.
    Am writing like mad. That's compensation too. I got the manuscript back from Carnegie Mellon. Two more to go.

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  6. Just remember, hundreds of others also got theirs back as well. Water off a slick duck's back!

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  7. Thanks, Ashley! I am glad that you like it...

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Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.