Marly Youmans

The Merchant and the Stylite

Whether he was comely I cannot say,
But he was born in Sis, Cilicia;
His father was a shepherd; that is sure,
And while he was still young this Simeon
Was lured by tales of the rabble-rousing Christ
Who with but words could still a storm at sea
And bid tranquillity to dazzle men.
How strange it is that such a force would yield
And almost run to clasp disgrace and death:
Do not suspect that I would choose the same!
Simeon was like a gale of ruin,
A tsunami of strain and suffering:
He was booted out of the monastery,
So wild his wish to be a sacrifice.
At last he squatted on a pillar-top,
Ate flatbread and goat's milk, but sparingly,
Allowed his visitors to prop ladders
Against the stone and climb to bawl their woes.
The Emperor Theodosius
And Aelia Eudocia his wife
Thought well of Simeon and his advice,
And many launched a pilgrimage to him
In hope or else in curiosity.
I was one, as meddlesome as any,
And not a jot regretting what I found,
Craning to snag a glimpse of Simeon
And never gaining a clear peep, so high
He was, and busy stooping, head to toes.
Some people said he was nigh fifty years;
Crowds called him Simeon Stylites then,
And only later did they dub him Saint.
He had a weeping ulcer on his thigh,
And I the pilgrim with the quick-eyed luck,
Scurrying to harvest fallen maggots,
Plump and pulsing with the saintly flesh—
Trapped in reliquaries of gilt and glass,
They fetched me a good price in Antioch.

The Maiden-saint of France

While still a child I was a thing men fear,
The fire-struck one who has the ears to hear

Far voices swinging, singing in the light
That pours to order chaos into right,

To call a girl to cross-dress as a knight
And rule as man, subvert the nobles' might,

And crown a king: to blaze against the stake;
To be forsaken by the world; to break.

I was content to spin and tend the sheep,
My mind and body drifting, half asleep

Until the saints and angel came to me
Inside our garden, near the apple tree.

Tree and stake are one, like cross and tree:
It's perilous to have the eyes that see.


Marly Youmans is the author of thirteen books of poetry and fiction. Forthcoming are Charis in the World of Wonders, a novel from Ignatius Press (San Francisco, CA), and The Book of the Red King, a sequence of poems from Phoenicia Publishing of Montreal.


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Marly Youmans


The most recent addition to The Mezzo Cammin Women Poets Timeline is Phillis Wheatley by Kathryn Voorhees.

Kathleen McClung is the recipient of the 2019 Mezzo Cammin Scholarship to the Poetry by the Sea conference.

Megan Marlatt:Looking like large puppet heads, it was "anima", the root of "animation", that led me to the making of the big heads, (or "capgrossos" as they are called in Catalonia where I learned the craft.) Anima is the soul or what breathes life into a being and to animate an inanimate object, an artist must insert a little soul into it. However to bring attention to what is invisible, (the soul), I chose to mold its opposite in solid form: the persona, the ego, the big head, the mask. Nearly every culture across the globe has masks. They allow performers to climb into the skin of another being and witness the other's world from behind their eyes. While doing so, the mask erases all clues of the performer's age, gender, species or race. In this regard, I find them to be the most transformative and empathic of all human artifacts.

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