Guest Poet Paula Grenside

The Weight

Ellie Evans, whose daughter
jumped into the Lison -
the river was dredged for weeks
tiring even the most curious -
passes me at the bridge.

She has grown fat, has swallowed 
her child's weight 
and drags herself heavily. 
An overloaded boat bound to sink,
she entangles me
in her lost mooring rope.

July, 2000

Paula Grenside's Questions:

Is it clear, in the lines in italics, it is a passing thought when the speaker meets the woman? The speaker relives, in a flash, the tragedy, sympathy and loss of interest in people?

- Is the grammar, in the first stanza, twisted to the point to confuse, or does it work.

-- The second stanza is about the impact of the meeting.The woman does nothing, yet the speaker feels "entangled" in her pain, perceives she is waiting to sink, empathizes. Is a further stanza necessary?

Market Day (en plein air)

I will leave the market, I think, 
leave the crates of peaches placed 
to hide the rotting part beneath, 
stale salad leaves and cauliflowers 
trodden upon, bargains shouted - three 
for one -incense and lavender 
meandering in slices of sky, tides 
of blue cheese ebbing among leather 
and plastic bags, belts, 
hands grabbing my skirt, toothless 
smiles offering glass necklaces, 
beams of fake diamonds in brass string.

But it's art again when I turn 
at the plate magician's stall. White 
terracotta tossed in the air lands on 
octopus-like fingers - swish, swish - opens 
in magnolia petals, saucer-pistil on top. 
A woman with red sinning lips hugs 
a man; her dress sways, rustles 
over the field of hands and shards 
of fallen flowers; the scent of her armpits 
lights an invisible flame that makes watchers 
slip out of the picture, leaves lovers 
in the perfect center of a light cone.

September, 2000

Paula Grenside's Questions:

The use of " but it's art again" was commented as unnecessary. Its use is to contrast the suffocating experience in the first stanza-- no matter how folkloric or romanticized the market is -- and how the  perspective can change and absorb the speaker in a reality that has the magic of art.

--Would it be clear without drawing the attention of the reader?

--Is the impressionistic effect conveyed?

The Albany Poetry Workshop