Natalie Staples

Roland's Wife Waits

So Roland went away and the Maiden stayed in a field as a stone, waiting for his return
—Grimm's Fairy Tales

All I felt for years
were waves of wheat,
a rush of mice. No one appeared.

Betrothed, alone
I waited silent and cold, a grey
and speckled stone.

Forget is easier said than done:
the day my groom almost wed another.
The past is fickle, will not be outrun.

Now he sleeps and dances
as if it never happened,
expects me to return his glances,

as if we were always arm over arm,
the hearth keeping us warm
and free from any harm.

August Light

The mourning dove and honeysuckle call
us back to younger selves, who start to sing
and sway. Beneath the hydrangea a lost
and secret language rises, starry, new.
I bare my shoulders to the fading sun
and wait for you to call my name and stop
the katydids and all the other songs,
a murmur left unheard, oh take and take.
We stay till cold, distant Orion shines
a dull goodbye and shutters must be closed.
Our room returns the blue incessant hum
of television, pings of phones. The same
as when a plane begins to touch the ground
its metal no longer souring cloud by cloud.
I want to carry sweetness, nectar drunk,
become the lover forever pining, pure
and painted still, but never feel the cold,
the hallow clay. Absurd. The garden shrub,
has tried to tell me so. I couldn't hear,
I was a quiver caught in summer's spell.


Natalie Staples holds a B.A. from Kenyon College and an M.F.A. from the University of Oregon. Her work has appeared in National Public Radio, Literary Matters, Birmingham Poetry Review, Able Muse, Terrain.org, and SWWIM Every Day. She serves as the Poetry Editor for Northwest Review.


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The latest addition to the Mezzo Cammin Women Poets Timeline Database is Rachel Wetzsteon by Patricia Behrens. The Poetry by the Sea Conference is scheduled next year from May 21-24.

Maureen Alsop:I often create visual art as a memorialization to the closure of a written work. However, many of these visual pieces arrived as a trajectory while writing a larger 'work-in-progress.' The text within the visual poems do not speak to the content of the larger work but are autonomous, acting as bridge between the written and visual bodies. The original text draws upon ghosts in the hall of battles. It is a glittering solar analemma, an unattested revolution, an infinity reflected in ellipses, omissions, and disintegration. A full collection representing many of these images came to fruition recently in Tender to Empress (Wet Cement Press). Yet the act of creating from text continues, as the digital collages here also include newer works based on miscellaneous notes, old emails, and most recently a short story, "The Unnamed Woman of Mary River" (forthcoming at South Dakota Review). The title to these are based on cargo ships which I pass on my daily commute from island to mainland. These small cities of people, afloat for weeks on end out at sea, are a looming story that embarks and disembarks in my imagination.

The visual poems are crafted under the mechanics of "Écriture Féminine," literally "women's writing." These principals advance a feminine perspective. I write from parallels, cyclical slips through stream of conscious and fragmentary processes. The writing exists as rough erotic. As talisman. Interpersonal in their ruptures and syntax, soft in their discomforts; a splintered narrative. Through writing, I can go anywhere and never be found.

32 Poems
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