Monday, February 25, 2013

A.E. Stallings: The Eldest Sister to Psyche

A.E. Stallings represents the best we have to offer in poetry today. Read her latest book, Olives. It is nearly perfect.

Here's one of three poems from it:

The Eldest Sister to Psyche

This palace, those invisible hands 
That stroke the music from thin air,
Call it magic:  everywhere
The haunted rooms obey commands,
And yet it sounds like loneliness.
Yes, I’m that ugly sister, true,
You’ll say I only envy you.
The fact—I know your secret guess—
Surrendered blind to his embrace,
You dared not look.  A human voice,
You thought.   You never had a choice.
Perhaps a monster, face to face,
With scales and fangs and leathern wings.
What of the fetus that you carry?
For certain it is human?  Very?
Doubt burns like hot wax; it stings.

Doubt burns.  Like hot wax, it stings.
For certain, it is human, very.
What of the fetus that you carry,
With scales and fangs and leathern wings
Perhaps?  A monster.  Face to face,
You thought you never had a choice,
You dared not.  Look, a human voice
Surrendered blind to his.  Embrace
The fact.  I know your secret.  Guess
You’ll say I only envy you.
Yes I’m that ugly, Sister True,
And yet...  It sounds like loneliness,
The haunted rooms.  Obey commands:
Call it magic.  Everywhere,
That stroke, the music.  From thin air,
This palace, those invisible hands.

Originally appeared as part of "Three Poems to Psyche" at Valpariso Poetry Review. Currently appears in Olives, TriQuarterly Books/Northwest University Press.

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