Posts Tagged ‘literature’

            a musing on Bloomsday, June 16

That was the first time
I fully understood
the sway of yes—
how what Joyce called
“the female word”
could seduce, could affirm,
could acquiesce,
could mountain flower,
could undress a grown man,
could slowly caress
others’ tenderest parts,
could trespass like perfume,
could rewrite the past.
Joyce said it signaled
“the end of all resistance,”
and I who tried
to be good, to be tame,
to do right, read Molly
and lusted to be
the one in the red yes
who lives with abandon
and recklessness,
and yes, I thought, yes
I could live into yes,
I slipped into the word
like a silken digression,
and thirty years later,
I still dream in yes,
my heart beating mad,
a riotous clash
when I yes, pulse with yes
did it enter you, too,
this radiant yes,
beating yes,
oh this yes.

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Mom, she says, I don’t know what it was about that book,

but the pages were falling out and it smelled old

and I think it cast a spell on me.

And I recall the first time I read Emily,

an old cloth book with the text debossed,

how I ran my fingers over the words

and felt them as I read them:

“As imperceptibly as Grief

The Summer lapsed away—”

Mom, she says, I didn’t even understand

a single word I read, but I couldn’t stop reading.

And now, I think that book is haunting me.

We are making her bed just before she sleeps,

and I tug on the covers to straighten them.

Yes, I say, her words are like spells.

I memorized that poem, though I was

too young to know of “courteous

and harrowing grace.” I knew only

that when I said the words, they gave

me such an openness, a wideness, a delight,

as if morning found its way into my chest,

and now, thirty years later, the early light

still touches me, still thralls.

The bed remade, she slips beneath

and I lay at her feet and for a time we read.

I want to talk more about Emily,

but the spell is her own and I don’t

want to trespass her magic,

the wonder she feels.

Perhaps someday she, too,

will read these lines,

“Our Summer made her light escape

into the beautiful.”

and know herself more beautiful

for having let them touch her.


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