The most recent books by MARLY YOUMANS are the book-length poem Seren of the Wildwood (Wiseblood Books, 2023); a novel set in Puritan New England, Charis in the World of Wonders (Ignatius Press, 2020); and her most recent collection of poems, The Book of the Red King (Phoenicia Press, 2019.) She divides her time between Cooperstown, New York and Cullowhee, North Carolina.
The White Ibis
Shell islands bleached to white, left by natives
In salty tidal rivers, and the ibis
Dazzling against the sky…and there I saw
The wedding-froth of mating plume and leaned
And caught a feather in my hand, the whole
Bounty of landscape trembling with the heat
And with the strange and flaring energies
Of something not yet known, one tremendous
Something manifesting presence… that’s how
It was for me, so strange it was to stare
From the prow of the sailboat and to let
A sunlit feather slip into my hand.
At dead of night the ibis came to me,
As beautiful as Eros to the soul,
And bent to press its breathing dream-shape close
Until I shivered, feeling spirit pour
Out of the river with its oyster isles,
Out of starred sky, out of the heart of the bird,
Proclaiming more and more and ever more,
Hidden behind the arras of the world.
Long ago, I rode a horse
As pretty as a ballad and strong,
And I called his name Lord Randal,
With a neck like a tower, withers
As glossy as the Chinese silk,
And all of him a song.
One day we found a curling path
That led into the forest’s edge,
And on that path there lay a thing,
Magic of a flaming feather.
The horse Lord Randal said to me,
Here’s trouble, ruin’s pledge.
And did I bend to grasp the gold
That bore the mark of fairyland,
And was I careless of the wrong?
Come danger and come woe together!
I cried, and marveled at the fire
In rachis, calamus, and vane
That quivered in my hand.
To the Flowers
Flowers, you give yourself effortlessly,
Without a stint, now strewing fragrances
But soon your petals in a dream of rain.
I think you are a lesson meant for me,
You giving soul and beauty all away
And never counting out a single cost.
I lean into the breeze, feeling myself
Like grasses, rippling with the summer’s sun,
Seeking like you to give myself away,
Artlessly with art, a paradox
That will lose luster, die, and be a seed.
Three hundred yards away from Lake Otsego,
The river makes small thunders at the dam,
Not yet the potent Susquehanna, no,
And the great blue heron like a long-legged god
Who rules the leaves and lapidary rocks
Skewers a fish and stalks out of the stream
Picking his everlasting way on stones…
I would not be the bluegill with his small
And flapping motions, helpless to change a fate,
Nor the heron, kingly in his element:
I side with flowers, incense, radiance,
The streaming of a blossom into air.
The Angel in the Tree
Who can understand the sins of angels?
Angular figure bent to thieve
A single egg, the bangle
Of halo dangling from a branch as leaves
Wholly surrendered to the wind
Go still: some presence grieves
The bird, the nest, the plucking from the tree,
The way the angel’s featherings
Seem leaves, the tragedy
In falls of feathered and unfeathered things…
A pebble that disturbs a pool
Begets a world of rings.
“Pray You, Love, Remember”
This painting is the first using my daughter Cecelia’s motifs,
in my own style; her peonies, her sky, a glass structure
representing her soul house. —Laura Murphy Frankstone
A simple, delicate glass house to float
In skies like lakes, with peonies that float
Like clouds and pitch their shadows on the sky
Like lilies on a pond, though clearly sky
Lades the canvas field with its forever,
Mystical, transparent blue forever…
The soul-house, left adrift in peonies,
Sets free one note of song, and peonies
Begin to stream perfume and streaks of song
Until the sky and blooms and glass and song
Are blent as one, and soul as fair as glass
Is painted, snared in flower-cloud and glass…
O soul-house sing the songs of kingdom come,
Of was and is and timelessness to come.
The most recent books by MARLY YOUMANS are the book-length poem Seren of the Wildwood (Wiseblood Books, 2023); a novel set in Puritan New England, Charis in the World of Wonders (Ignatius Press, 2020); and her most recent collection of poems, The Book of the Red King (Phoenicia Press, 2019.) She divides her time between Cooperstown, New York and Cullowhee, North Carolina