Here We Go Round


Going around the mulberry bush
About 6 o’clock in morning hush,

Our feet were crushing the fallen fruit,
Our minds were dreaming of the root

That goes tap-tapping underground
With an uncanny, dreamy sound.


Tiny mulberry demons clung
To undersides of leaf, and stung

Our tender hands, and yanked our hair
Until we circled in despair

And world seemed all confusion, all
One vertigo of endless fall.


The mulberries tasted of rot—
No wonder. It was damp and hot,

We tumbled down into the ditch
Dug in fairy time by the Witch.

A little dirt makes ditch a mound:
So here ends the mulberry round.

Self-Portrait as Dryad, No. 2

November, she is
A silvery-gray torment,
Moon snagged in her claws—

A fortune teller’s
Ball, hurled angrily at night.
Snared, held, asked-of glass

Declares: Snarl of twigs,
The deadwood next to your heart,
Cracks foretelling fall—

No worry. Your root
Taps through stone to the fire core,
Your net captures cloud.

The muse, merciless
Boy, will run to you in spring,
He’ll call for poems

And willy-nilly
Whistle for flower and fruit
Till you’re racked with bloom.

Self-Portrait as Dryad, No. 4

Here it is all land
And wall; by sheerest chance, I
Fell into a cave—
My dreaming catkin
Sailed between fine drops of rain
Slipping toward the sea.

The drops became salt,
But whimsical air teased me,
Whirling me inland.

Cavern of wonder,
A hollow applewood stump
Cupped me in its dark.

The tree must have grown
Old in the kitchen-midden.
Its core held wonders,

Broken crockery
With mercury glass and gold,
Stalagmites of shard.

My spindle wound light,
My needle knitted a leaf
In the hall of rot.

I was a tiny
Birch dragon in a bright hoard,
My green tongue flicking.

Time has swapped us round.
My tower spires high and white
Over applewood.

What seedlet counts cost?
The dragon’s jaw, tightening,
Buries teeth in me.


A native of the Carolinas, Marly Youmans lives in Cooperstown, New York with her husband and three children. Her latest novel was The Wolf Pit (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2001 - Michael Shaara Award), and her most recent American fantasy for children was Ingledove (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2005). Her first book of poems was Claire (Louisiana State University Press, 2003). Forthcoming is Val/Orson in the P. S. Publishing (U.K.) novella series (2008). Her stories and poems are forthcoming in Books & Culture, Logorrhea (Bantam, 2007), and other publications. Visit Marly Youmans's website.


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Marly Youmans
Judith Taylor: No one seems to disagree with me when I say there's something compelling about these images. Maybe it's because we're so inundated by the media with narrative that is manipulated and inflated that these honest little private struggles to say something touch us at the core. The eye with which we see them now is not the eye of the young writer, and that distance is interesting, surprising. Maybe the connection between the adolescent girl and the adult woman, or the diary page and the studio wall, is closer than I think.
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