new zealand electronic poetry centre


Mary Stanley

online works

Three Festivals

May, and the sullen year sags
into winter with rain-wet rags
of leaves to light no comfort
for us caught in the stiff
fingers of these lean days. Here
the wind cries in my thirtieth year
under the drowned circle of the brief
sun. The bitter airs report
world winter closing round
the mole-blind heart gone underground.

Under a fur of lies we sleep
foetus-curled against the deep
tide of cold that must begin
its nightmare knocking in our blood.
The sea explores the dreaming ear
in whose calm corridors we hear
only the gullís voice. The flood
beaches its sea-drift bone and thin
fret of hair in known bays
to mock our facile pitying phrase.

What man is it this child
fathers grown twenty years
from the cock-crow kingdom of this
his one season? Heir to our sins
and acts, to generations locked
in the secret sperm, with hands
already committed to what good
or evil? What dream and terrors will tenant
this egg-shell bone, or desires wind
beyond bearing the hair-spring nerve?
Not all my birthday wishes serve
to make fair his landscape, find
assured summer for his lint
white head and blue eyes or food
for future hungers. Here, he stands
separate as always; unborn was rocked
in his separate tide. His need still spins
a web of love not knowing a kiss
also betrays. His grief which wears
these easy tears later is sealed
in the woundís core to go unhealed.

Casual or causal, our eyes explore
strange coasts. Voyaging always
among islands we mark what rocks
prick the intolerable shore like sores.
What legend buried in the ear
or compass-instinct poised in the first
cell prints on the mind this shocked
syllable of fear? What angry thirst
steers us beyond outrage to the amazing
estuary where no dangers are?
Which most dear country being
found I cherish always its mild
climate of birds and trees. All weathers
shelter me, and what storms break
speak no distress, for love lies close
as bone under my living flesh.
Now I am known here, how lightly tethered
by two year bonds in the passionate
bride bed and bloody torment of childbirth
and this grave festival my word praises.


© Mary Stanley

Last updated 26 November, 2002