Poetry Month # 3: Elinor Wylie

My patient is in her bed, asleep. Her grey hair, not completely white, is greasy and untended. She is dying, just not right this minute. I unfold the little chair I am carrying and sit next to her. I am not a long lost family member who has traveled miles to see her. I am just a volunteer. And so there is no reason to wake her. I sit and knit a cabled scarf. Knit one, purl two. The scarf is in blocks of color, the wool is forty years old, hand dyed by a friend who was once a weaver. She found an old box of yarn and gave it to me.
The patient in bed, when lucid, has said she likes poetry What is poetry? I figure it should rhyme. I open the heavy paperback of Penguin Women poets. Elinor Wylie seems like a safe bed. Emily Dickinson has too much about death. Does anyone read Elinor Wylie anymore? I doubt it. It is light and feminine and doesn’t really go anywhere, I think I shouldn’t insult it, but I tend to. But it reads well aloud. Then I read a Marianne Moore-—better to my ears but maybe not better if you are an old lady dying.
She breaths. In. Out. I fold up my chair, pack my knitting. In a way, I don’t want to go. I want to stay forever, until she dies. But I go.

***
Down to the Puritan marrow of my bones
There’s something in this richness that I hate.
I love the look, austere, immaculate,
Of landscapes drawn in pearly monotones.
There’s something in my very blood that owns
Bare hills, cold silver on a sky of slate,
A thread of water, churned to milky spate
Streaming through slanted pastures fenced with stones.

I love those skies, thin blue or snowy gray,
Those fields sparse-planted, rendering meagre sheaves;
That spring, briefer than apple-blossom’s breath,
Summer, so much too beautiful to stay,
Swift autumn, like a bonfire of leaves,
And sleepy winter, like the sleep of death.

From “Wild Peaches”


Elinor Wylie

This entry was posted in Poetry, Uncategorized by Miriam Sagan. Bookmark the permalink.

About Miriam Sagan

I'm blogging about poetry, land art, haiku, women artists, road trips, and Baba Yaga at Miriam's Well (https://miriamswell.wordpress.com). The well is ALWAYS looking to publish poetry on our themes, sudden fiction, and guest bloggers and musers.

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