Together by Maxine Kumin

The water closing
over us and the
going down is all.
Gills are given.
We convert in a
town of broken hulls and green doubloons.
O you dead pirates hear us! There is no salvage. All you know is the color
of warm caramel. All is salt.

See how our eyes have migrated to the uphill side?
Now we are new round mouths and no spines, letting the water cover.
It happens over
and over, me in
your body and you
in mine.

The Fury of Hating Eyes – Anne Sexton

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I would like to bury
all the hating eyes
under the sand somewhere off
the North Atlantic and suffocate
them with the awful sand
and put all their colors to sleep
in that soft smother.
Take the brown eyes of my father,
those gun shots, those mean muds.
Bury them.
Take the blue eyes of my mother,
naked as the sea,
waiting to pull you down
where there is no air, no God.
Bury them.
Take the black eyes of my love,
coal eyes like a cruel hog,
wanting to whip you and laugh.
Bury them.
Take the hating eyes of martyrs,
presidents, bus collectors,
bank managers, soldiers.
Bury them.
Take my eyes, half blind
and falling into the air.
Bury them.
Take your eyes.
I come to the center,
where a shark looks up at death
and thinks of my heart
and squeeze it like a doughnut.
They’d like to take my eyes
and poke a hatpin through
their pupils. Not just to bury
but to stab. As for your eyes,
I fold up in front of them
in a baby ball and you send
them to the State Asylum.
Look! Look! Both those
mice are watching you
from behind the kind bars.

the Work of Happiness by May Sarton

 

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I thought of happiness, how it is woven
Out of the silence in the empty house each day
And how it is not sudden and it is not given
But is creation itself like the growth of a tree.
No one has seen it happen, but inside the bark
Another circle is growing in the expanding ring.
No one has heard the root go deeper in the dark,
But the tree is lifted by this inward work
And its plumes shine, and its leaves are glittering.
So happiness is woven out of the peace of hours
And strikes its roots deep in the house alone:
The old chest in the corner, cool waxed floors,
White curtains softly and continually blown
As the free air moves quietly about the room;
A shelf of books, a table, and the white-washed wall—
These are the dear familiar gods of home,
And here the work of faith can best be done,
The growing tree is green and musical.
For what is happiness but growth in peace,
The timeless sense of time when furniture
Has stood a life’s span in a single place,
And as the air moves, so the old dreams stir
The shining leaves of present happiness?
No one has heard thought or listened to a mind,
But where people have lived in inwardness
The air is charged with blessing and does bless;
Windows look out on mountains and the walls are kind.

The Muse of Medusa

Sarton:

…Although, I have loved men, I haven’t written poems to them.  It’s very mysterious.  It’s not something you can control.  It does come from the subconscious, from the gods, if you will.  It occurs to me that the poem to at this moment, because of the finding of one’s own secret and terrible self through encounter is ‘ The Muse as Medusa.’

 

The Muse as Medusa

I saw you once, Medusa; we were alone.

I looked you straight in the cold eye, cold.

I was not punished, was not turned to stone-

‘How to believe the legends I am told?’

 

♥I came as naked as any little fish.

Prepared to be hooked, gutted, caught;

But I saw you, Medusa, made my wish.

And when I left you I was clothed in thought…

Being allowed, perhaps, to swim my way.

Through the great deep on the rising tide.

Flashing wild streams, as free and rich as they,

Though you had power marshaled on your side.

The fish escaped to many a magic reef;

The fish explored many a dangerous sea-

The fish, Medusa, did not come to grief,

But swims still in a fluid mystery.

 

Forget the image: your silence in my ocean,

And even now it teems with life.

You choose to abdicate by total lack of motion,

But did it work, for nothing really froze?

Is it all fluid still, that world of feeling

Where thoughts, those fishes, silent, feed and rave:

And, fluid, it is also full of healing,

For love is healing, even rootless love.

I turn your face around!

It is my face.

That frozen rage is what I must explore-

Oh secret, self-enclosed, and ravaged place!

This is the gift I think Medusa for.