In her own words...

"Waverly and a Place"


(for Richard Howard)

The room — a cave,
an Alexandria before the flames —
bound in boundlessness, a tapestry
of whispers, threads dangling
                                                                on tenses

distinguishing the naked ear.
What is this place, where am I here?
Syntax lights the lamp; it's dark outside.
Voices like down insist, insist
                                                                we are adrift.

It's anything you want, this galaxy
of prodigals in fabled seasons.
Our presence: invasion of privacy?
Waverly, serene, defines the evening
                                                                of its Place.

You could think of Babel's tower. Yet
so much fervor, captive now,
breathes mesmerizing quietude:
reams of leaves in which to drown
                                                                our panic.

A chime. It's late. Slant rain has
turned to snow. Time to go.
Speak for us, angels and demons of Parma
or Paris Oran Harar Peking or
                                                                Kathmandu —

islands, all islands, separate as we
who, shifting with tectonic tides,
merge, turn a cheek, a phrase,
leave this evening's alchemy —


About this work

“Waverly and a Place” was first published in Parnassus: Poetry in Review, Vol. 25, nos. 1 & 2 (2001), pp. 350-1.  It is also included in Dorothea Tanning's book, A Table of Content: Poems, New York: Graywolf Press, 2004, pp. 81-82, and may not be reprinted without the publisher's permission.