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Spring/Summer 2002, Volume 19.3

Poetry

Winner of the O. Marvin Lewis Award

Myrna StonePicture of Myrna Stone.


Myrna Stone is the author of
The Art of Loss, a collection of poetry published by Michigan State University Press in 2001. Her poems have appeared, or are forthcoming, in Poetry, TriQuarterly, Ploughshares, New Orleans Review, Midwest Quarterly, and others. Stone is currently at work on a second book-length manuscript tentatively entitled Elements of Desire.  To see more of Myrna Stone's work visit:
http://www.msupress.msu.edu/lotus/loss.html
http://www.pshares.org/authors/authorDetails.cfm?prmAuthorID=1832

See other work by Myrna Stone published in Weber Studies2005 poetry

 

Less and More

We are all dreamers and riders, going
somewhere and nowhere…

—lines excised from the poem

Young or old, in their odd layers of cotton
and wool, or stripped to undershirts
in the swelter of August,

they seemed synonymous, their fists
the sole coin filling their pockets,
their faces compunctious

in their want, men for whom she gathered
from the closets and cupboards
our excess goods—

tins of beans and coffee, biscuits laced
with honey, slabs of ham from the shank,
my father's shirts,

trousers, shoes, and once, to her remorse,
his favorite hunting jacket—while each
waited, lingering

on the steps or in the shade of the eaves,
beginning even then to vanish
into the gist of the story,

a tale we embellished in the dusk
before bedtime, a moral for the rude
and rootless life,

full of ashes and cinders. But the truth is
something less and more, coded
in our breath and bone

by turn or chance, in the men, awake
or asleep, swaying in the cradles
of boxcars, in the children

safely tucked in their sheets, in the mother,
rinsing and stacking her supper dishes,
who blesses them all.

 

From the House of Blue Lights

the child, in season, emerges
      to escort herself down the eight village
blocks to McCrory's double doors
            inside which the air overwhelms, rife

with the odors of licorice root
      and anise, with cheap perfumery scents,
only one of which, in passing, she will
            sample and dismiss. In her pocket a purse

of clear plastic, bulging with coins,
      weighted expressly for the purchase
of this vintage nineteen-fifty-seven
            moment, for the faceted glass earrings

of faux ruby she will take back
      for the woman whose name inspires
their acquisition, who will or will not
            wear them. But this is not about her,

or the gift itself, or even about
      the child, who, having not yet suffered
the slightest diminution of wonder,
            steps out, entranced, onto the sidewalk

where night and snow are gathering,
      where each shop, garnished in crimson
and green, transforms from the familiar.
            Now, like and unlike us, she is impatient,

imagining from a distance the light
      of the street lamp at her corner, the house
beyond, within whose cool luminosity
            and symmetry of wreaths and windows

her mother waits. Like and unlike us,
      she will travel home in her own sweet time,
transported, an acolyte of pleasure, a rapt
            believer in joy, a vessel, a cup filling up.

 

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