Monday, November 20, 2023

Marly Youmans

Marly Youmans has written sixteen books of poetry and fiction ― which is a good way to put it, since some of her books straddle the divide between genres.

Her most recent book is Seren of the Wildwood (2023, Wiseblood) ― an epic poem written within the strict limitations Marly Youmans has placed upon herself. Its 61 chapters each consist of 21 lines of blank verse (iambic pentameter):
----------Never speak of your passions by the wildwood—
----------The needfulness that might have saved their lives…
followed by five lines of rhyming verse:
----------And trees
----------May shelter eyes and ears
----------That do not care to please—
----------The shade where something hears,
----------The dark where something sees.
It tells the story of a girl, born after the death of her brothers, seemingly because her father had said,
----------“I wish I had a daughter, not you boys
----------Who shut your ears and are no help to me!”
Be careful what you wish for, indeed!

Earlier poetry collections include Claire: poems (2003, LSU Press), and The Book of the Red King (2019, Phoenicia Publishing). She lives in New York State.

The following poem appeared in [A New] Decameron.

The Hand

I found a hand, half-buried in a field—
Like light, it held all colors in itself,
A sparkling white, perhaps alabaster
Or moonlight pooled and then solidified.
I bought the field. I dug around the hand,
Hired men to drag it from the hiding place.
They marveled at the size; I crossed their palms
With silver, bribing them to tell no one.
I scrubbed the dirt, the lichen flourishes
And stains until the hand was luminous
By day or night. It shone below the moon
As if it were the glove to catch that ball.
In summer, I lay naked in its curl,
The coolness of the skin against my skin.
In fall, leaves settled in the fingers’ bowl.
In snow, the hand was lost beneath the stars.
One night I dreamed the fingers held three keys.
The first was silvery, a key of rain.
The second, bronze, unlocking a great chest
Where all the souls of those to be were stored.
The third was golden, notched and nicked with signs,
But what it meant, or why the angels flew
Backwards and forwards, hunting the bright key,
I didn’t know. I reached to them in sleep.
Stories say that God could make a mountain
With just one hand. To make a man took two.
All I know is story. I called and woke,
And dew was on my face like chilly tears.

Posted with permission of the poet.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the author of five poetry collections including Angelicus (2021, Cascade) ― a book of poems written from the point-of-view of angels. His books are available through Wipf & Stock.