My final. (Have yourselves a sentimental little sonnet sequence.)
It’s a self-explanatory poem in terms of themes, I think, but in order of references, it’s 1 – West, Woolf, Stein, 2 – H.D., Barnes, Hurston, 3 – Larsen, Sayers. Here’s the text of the poem.
A woman waits, like many of her time,
And ours. All past disasters can’t contend.
A man walks upright to the trench’s grime,
Trapped in a 1918 with no end.
A mother’s space hides children from their fears,
But time maintains its harsh relentless drives.
A lighthouse beam rotates across ten years;
A brush lifts; Mrs. Ramsay yet survives.
All while in France, a private space is made,
A space in language for the strange and new.
Two women make the talk of art their trade,
But hide their tender buttons from our view.
And so we make all that we can of space
And time entraps us, right ’til it gives chase.
The trees of Pennsylvania sway above,
A woman’s head of poems lies below.
Words muted out by small talk, dope, false love,
Still shine beneath a palimpsest of snow.
And there’s a night in cities overseas
For those who will not take the dope at all.
Does difference masked by darkness make you free?
Your fellow differences await your fall.
But if you’re set on staying what you are,
There’s mothers’ mangers that accept the strange:
Messiahs, prophets, and, what’s more bizarre –
The cruel world’s capacity for change.
Normality’s demands plague mind and heart,
We stand our ground, or pull ourselves apart.
Choose to survive, and you succumb to loss.
Kill your reflection; still, your misery stays.
The lines you’ve blurred; the lines she passed across.
The lies that make you haunt your empty days.
Or kill the part of you that looks behind,
In winter, let it fall and bleed on snow.
Nebraska’s wide expanse holds you confined,
But plant your seeds, and let your fruit trees grow.
Or in a college where the world stands still,
Uphold the truth; you have no other choice.
Unwomanly, untamed, and fighting, still,
Lay down your loneliness, but keep your voice.
Be writer, lover, mother, scholar, wife.
But keep what’s yours – a mind, a self, a life.
So if there’s unmarked graves in which you lie,
I hope that one day they will bear your name.
And if you fade from print and public eye,
I hope that someone finds you all the same.
And if there’s further history that’s lost,
For all the hearts worn out and minds worn thin,
Among the loves that come with myriad costs,
In some, the best of hearts and minds begin.
And if there’s someone reading you today,
Where under chandeliers of sparkling glass
Dialogue meanders, wanders, finds its way,
And hours and minutes move by far too fast,
Observed, discussed, you linger with us here.
And in observing, we survive the year.