Marly Youmans

Scout Ceremony

Old choices made are all around--
Across the way, the hanging ground,

Above, the mansions on the ridge,
And underfoot, the hand-laid bridge.

The trees all luminous with snow,
The flaming arrow on the bow,

The solemn older boys who cross
The crenellated bridge and foss

Between the worlds, while arcs of fire
Make images of heart's desire:

This cobbled-up mythology,
This arrow's blaze of purity--

The animals with human speech,
The four-direction winds that teach

Surprise us with a note of power
Enduring past the meeting hour.

for Eileen

You are alone inside the dark,
Your head is bent as if in prayer. . .
For unwashed weeks you have been still,
So still, that eyes may rest and heal.
Sometimes your head is bent in prayer
But always it is bent and yields
To what the others say is best.
Bereft until someone appears,
Husband or friend: so you have learned
Who is a friend and who is not.
The knot of marriage, will it hold
Against such cumberings as these?
Sometimes the muse is there to sing,
Sometimes le moi profond awakes
To feel, exquisitely, its pain,
Dark stars of hopelessness or hope,
Outlandish modes of forsaking,
The pen grown weighty in your hand,
The thrust, the minnow-dart of words
Congealed and dammed above the stream.

And now you'll drowse as Christmas comes
And Twelfth Night goes in gaiety
This year for others, not for you.
Old Winter rules your fallen world
And lets the snowflakes bridal earth,
The icicles collect in crowns,
And all your powers curl in sleep--
This is the Advent of your sight.
Still wait inside the dark for light.


photo courtesy of
Ellen Datlow
Marly Youmans's latest book, the novel Val/Orson (U.K.: P. S. Publishing, 2009) was just named "Book of the Year" by Books & Culture. Her eighth book will be a collection of poetry, The Throne of Psyche (Mercer University Press, 2011); the title poem appeared in Mezzo Cammin. Other earlier work in Mezzo Cammin: 2009.1, 2008.2, 2008.1, & 2007.1.


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Marly Youmans

Mezzo Cammin is proud to announce that The Mezzo Cammin Women Poets Timeline Project, which will eventually be the largest database of women poets in the world, was launched on Saturday, March 27, 2010, at 6:00 PM at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Tom Field)
Visit Timeline.
Jo Yarrington: I've always been interested in liminal places, areas of the mind or reality that blur definition, that exist somewhere in between. When first reading Swann's Way, I instantly identified with Proust's ruminations on the space between sleeping and waking. Suspended in that glide from consciousness to unconsciousness, he seemed to find a threshold to unfettered freedom and clarity. In Brontë's Villette, when faced with the harsh realities and social restrictions of Victorian England, Lucy Snow could slip into her shadowland, an interior place of refuge and boundless possibilities. And, in Atonement, McEwan spoke to the fertile pause between stillness and motion when he wrote "the mystery was in the instant before it moved, the dividing moment between moving and nonmoving, when her intention took effect." It is these elusive, shifting planes, these fluctuations in our psychic core and physical being, these changeable and charged arenas that I explore in my visual art.
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