Monday, June 6, 2016

Jennifer Maier

Jennifer Maier is professor of English at Seattle Pacific University. She is the author of two poetry collections, the first of which — Dark Alphabet — won the Crab Orchard Review Series in Poetry First Book Award, and was named one of the Ten Remarkable Books of 2006 by the Academy of American Poets. In 2012 she received The Writer Magazine/Emily Dickinson Award for her poem "fly" which is inspired by a line in a Dickinson poem.

Maier is an associate editor with Image. The following is from her second poetry collection Now, Now (2013, University of Pittsburgh Press).

Annunciation with Possum and Tomatoes

Faith in spring, is a fertile bed, the hope of things
unseen — summer, round in the hand; toil, expectancy, ripe
weight. Grace, for a possum, is another thing:
a sleeping dog, an open gate, five soft globes,

each bite, a new beginning. She ate them all,
but afterward I dreamed I saw a jungle of tomatoes
grown wild against the house, the fruit hanging fat, allegorical,
as the red canopy in Dieric Bouts's Annunciation,

in which the Virgin, surprised in her bedchamber,
looks up from her book, as the Flemish angel, plain
and reliable as a school nurse, calmly delivers the news.
His right finger points up at the Father,

or at the tomato-shaped folds of the drapery, as he explains
about the fruit of the womb, how it will ripen and spill
to repair the blight in the garden, the one that begot death
and beauty in turn, having first made thieves of us all.

Bouts's Holland would not taste tomatoes for another century;
the plague was swallowing citizens left and right,
but the good people of Haarlem still donned their peasant
leggings and took to the field. Perhaps the ploughman,

framed moments ago in the Gothic arch of the Virgin's window,
has set down his rake and is resting in the shade of a tree,
thinking about the fall and its hungers, and about himself,
kin to all mortal creatures, the ones who sow, and the ones

who plunder after them, who wake famished in the night,
all furred appetite, dreaming of a fruit they have never known:
flesh and seed, crotch and vine, its taste in the mouth sharp
as the known world, delectable as Eden.

Posted with permission of the poet.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.