Sunday, April 22, 2012

Tuesday Poem--Waiting for Evy by Melissa Green


                  in memory of EM
Across a cream-colored raw silk sky,
the deeply booming fog horn seems to mourn
the ending of the day, ribbons and veils
of chiffon blowing through October’s bloody leaves,
torn from laughing brides whose white limousines
have passed, fog streaming in my summer screens like gauze.
Beyond the church spires through the dusk
there is an answering campanile,
a lighthouse in Boston Harbor,
on an island, on a rock pile, with peeling shakes
and geraniums by the door without its beam alight.
I know all its windows are open.
A rag rug, a table, thickly-painted, beside
the trundle bed. On it are salt-scented,
surf-colored sheets, hemmed in scallop shells,
waiting for a woman to come back from the sea.
Let me tell you how it happened:
she put her palms together to pray, paused,
then plunged into the breakers,
learning to breathe underwater
though it came hard, her ear
turning abalone, the depths disheveling
her quicksilver nightdress as she kicked
in her diving down and vanishing.
She is going to lie on the Atlantic’s deepest altar--
to be unmade--to be colonized again with microscopic pearls,
to be reborn in the beating of the tides,
rhythms which will start up her burdened heart
when the metamorphosis is over.
Moon, keep track of her.
Pebbles chatter as the riptide pulls back stones,
gulls on the seawall pacing anxiously and muttering.
I’m here until darkfall, dawn, day--as long as it takes,
pressing my toes in her freezing Lethe underfoot.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. i am so discombobulated--just noticed you'd posted this a dog's age ago already.
    this is so familiar, like clothing packed away for the next season. (that's not a bad thing; it's our shared New England sensibility i think...these images, those pebbles, the gulls that drive us crazy except when we dont hear them...)
    love, me

  3. John, I think we'd have to sit down over several pints while you explained most of the references you have cited here. I appreciate it, but am rather overwhelmed. And am certainly glad that I didn't commit the mortal sin of cliche--it is difficult to use the language of the sea and signs and symbols from the classical world, as it's been in the canon for generations. Perhaps it's because I live by the sea that my mind is somewhat tidal and can toss up on the white sand of the paper images washed and broken in a different way. Thanks for thinking this poem is a keeper and for your thoughtful reply.

  4. Dear Susan, I think Blogger posted the poem on the Reading List a day ago when I listed it on my post in Draft but didn't post it on the blog until I actually manually did it. Blogger is going through one of its 'spells' again.

    Yes, this is all the old familiar New England stuff, but the sea is somehow my first language--the sensibility is the stuff of post cards, plus old foxed books of Longfellow, sun-cracked porch cushions and seaweed you smell in the cottage when it's first opened after Memorial Day. xo

  5. Oh. Oh. My. I want a book of your poems to read, to hold, Melissa. Can I find one somewhere?

    I'm going to comment with a cliche: This is so tragically beautiful. Every word, every line. I went down under the water with my breath, tried to breathe it in, and my heart skipped a beat, and then I paced with the gulls. I'm finding it all hard to leave!

  6. Thank you, Jayne. I've sent you an email. xo