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Poets T

Terris - Taylor (3)

It's All Greek
                                           Lo! with a little rod,
                                       I did but touch the honey of romance —
                                          And must I lose a soul's inheritance?
                                                                               — Oscar Wilde

by Susan Terris

Yes, until proved otherwise: innocent, innocent . . .
Not a lover, more a connoisseur of slender works of art.

The form of a cat or cat o’ nine tails. Or of a long-necked
porcelain vase, sleek, newly-laid with Greek keys.

Ah, the Greeks had it right, after all, oiling the naked
boy bodies, crowning them lightly with laurel or olive.

There are sins of commission and omission. Of the two, I
prefer the latter. Boy-becoming/man-not-yet-finished.

Before you judge me, I admit to nothing and everything:

  Illusion is the first of all pleasures. Not only knee breeches
or velvet but flesh close to the bone. And I — a slut for Beauty.

From Contrariwise by Susan Terris. Copyright © 2008 by Time Being Books. Reprinted courtesy of Time Being Press.

For Lucy, Who Came First
by Marilyn Taylor

She simply settled down in one piece right where she was,
in the sand of a long-vanished lake edge or stream--and died.

—Donald C. Johanson, paleoanthropologist

When I put my hand up to my face
I can trace her heavy jawbone and the sockets
of her eyes under my skin. And in the dark
I sometimes feel her trying to uncurl
from where she sank into mudbound sleep
on that soft and temporary shore

so staggeringly long ago, time
had not yet cut its straight line
through the tangle of the planet,
nor taken up the measured sweep
that stacks the days and seasons
into an ordered past.

But I can feel her stirring
in the core of me, trying to rise up
from the deep hollow where she fell—
wanting to prowl on long callused toes
to see what made that shadow move,
to face the creature in the dark thicket

needing to know if this late-spreading dawn
will bring handfuls of berries, black
as blood, or the sting of snow,
or the steady slap of sand and weed
that wraps itself like fur
around the body.

With permission from Marilyn Taylor, Published in Iris 38 (Winter/Spring 1999), 76.

Subject to Change
by Marilyn Taylor

A reflection on my students

They are so beautiful, and so very young
they seem almost to glitter with perfection,
these creatures that I briefly move among.

I never get to stay with them for long,
but even so, I view them with affection:
they are so beautiful, and so very young.

Poised or clumsy, placid or high-strung,
they’re expert in the art of introspection,
these creatures that I briefly move among—

And if their words don’t quite trip off the tongue
consistently, with just the right inflection,
they remain beautiful. And very young.

Still, I have to tell myself it’s wrong
to think of them as anything but fiction,
these creatures that I briefly move among—

Because, like me, they’re traveling headlong
in that familiar, vertical direction
that coarsens beautiful, blackmails young,
and turns to phantoms those I move among.

With permission from Marilyn Taylor, Previously published in POETRY, 180.5 (August 2002)

Studying the Menu
by Marilyn Taylor

Speaking of all those things you'll never eat,
my love--could one of them, in fact, be crow?
Of course it could. But you already know
how poisonous it tastes (if bittersweet).
These days you're craving quite another treat:
the one who will replace me. But that sloe-
eyed, slack-jawed creature's surely going to show
you all the nuance of a bitch in heat.

I hope she has the brains of a golden retriever,
the glamour of an aging manatee,
the refinement of a Packers wide receiver
and finds her favorite books at Dollar Tree.
--And darling, may she be a born deceiver,
and do to you what you have done to me.

With permission from Marilyn Taylor, Previously published in the Alabama Literary Review, Spring, 2007



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