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Marly Youmans

Vermont Kingdom / Children of Mystery

Editor's note: For Halloween, here are two poems by Marly Youmans from the September/October issue of Books & Culture. Youmans lives in Cooperstown, New York. Her recent books of poetry include Thaliad, a narrative poem, and The Foliate Head.

Vermont Kingdom

Dirigibles barely wafting, dropping
Shadows on the mountains, handkerchiefs
No giant will pluck—
Glimpses of stick-castle lodges, raised
In a fishless and perfectly still moat,
Pictures of clouds tethered, lightly tacked
To the surface—
Spiral thread of road teased from a raveled
Winding-sheet, threading as if through the Eye
Of Needle Gate—
To paradises where the minotaur
(All-forgiven) is tweeting on a flute
By yellowed tamaracks, while beavers dance
A court gavotte—
In the midst of this my ordinary,
Ancient phrases rise: halig scyppend
þa middangeard
Water is welling under sweet fragments
Of golden leaves—spirit water, soul
Of the rocks and earth, song forever blessing,
Windfall of joy.

Children of Mystery

"The ecstatic hermits are invisible at first."
Even as infants they were hard to find,
Often resting in shadows from the huts,
Squeaking when we tripped on little torsos,
Bobbling across the oasis water,
Murmuring as they wafted near the fire.
In time they learned to cast a shadow self
That made us glance, thinking some hawk was near—
Shade sliding on sands like a UFO.
As teens they mourned and moped around the place,
Glimpses visible to us by moonlight,
Emitting nameless wails and failing math.
Even when grown, they tended to remove
Their spirits from the body, the flesh moored
On the matting while they roamed the desert,
Searching infinities of sand for God,
His flickerings more real than what we knew.
Sometimes they tried to teach us how to live
With rapture, bending to our souls in trance,
But few of us learned more than how to sit
Thoughtlessly, like an austral cat in sun.
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