From the archives – The Acrobats by Mary Meriam

The Acrobats

I spend my solo life in windy spaces,
way up above the throng, no safety net
below, exposed to row on row of faces
fixed on the acrobats in silhouette.
I’ll fall with one misstep or if the wire
splits or my fingers slip. I climb the rungs,
trembling, trembling. Rising higher, higher,
I cough out all the fumbles in my lungs,
and here’s my tiny platform, just a disk
that fits my feet. From here, I leap and swing
into the flashing lights, familiar with the risk
by now, but shocked to see you stand and fling
yourself from your own platform over there
and catch me from your swing through the thin air.

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, December 4, 2015 — by Mary Meriam

artist Emily Nicole Tucker

The Mockers by Mary Meriam

The Mockers

What rich glass bottle held the picture of
our music teacher, name I can’t recall.
I only know I had a twisted love
for her, that she was strange, alone, and tall.
We took the bottle to the field out back,
my childhood friend and I, and dug a grave.
Whatever crazy words we said, I lack
them now. Or did we sing or laugh, I crave
this memory, our kneeling on the ground
one afternoon to place Miss X in earth.
I strain my mind with hope to hear a sound,
even a bird, or leaves in wind, what birth
of folly or regret was brewing then,
what digging up could bring her back again.

by Mary Meriam, from The Lesbian.

Editor’s Note: This sonnet touches on a memory barely retained, yet still the emotional impact of regret and wondering lingers.

The Acrobats by Mary Meriam

The Acrobats

I spend my solo life in windy spaces,
way up above the throng, no safety net
below, exposed to row on row of faces
fixed on the acrobats in silhouette.
I’ll fall with one misstep or if the wire
splits or my fingers slip. I climb the rungs,
trembling, trembling. Rising higher, higher,
I cough out all the fumbles in my lungs,
and here’s my tiny platform, just a disk
that fits my feet. From here, I leap and swing
into the flashing lights, familiar with the risk
by now, but shocked to see you stand and fling
yourself from your own platform over there
and catch me from your swing through the thin air.

by Mary Meriam, from The Lillian Trilogy.

Editor’s Note: This delightful sonnet describes a moment of fear and exhilaration—the acrobat leaps, but the reader flies.

From the archives – Portrait of a Woman Revealing Her Breasts — Mary Meriam

Portrait of a Woman Revealing Her Breasts

Sensing Tintoretto’s brushes
on her breasts, tender, luscious,
she looks away and faintly blushes.

Can we understand the deal
she made to model and reveal?
Was it for love? Oh, let me feel

this love, then let my fingers slide
along each folded, flowing side
of parted dress and salty tide,

until I touch her strands of pearls.
Now tickled by her auburn curls
and wavy locks, her image twirls

an ocean where I cannot swim
and flailing, drown. Here on the slim
shore of sound, I sigh and limn.

from Autumn Sky Poetry 23 — by Mary Meriam

Jacopo Robusti (Tintoretto)’s “Portrait of a Woman Revealing Her Breasts.” 1570. Oil on canvas. Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, Spain.

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Dinner by Mary Meriam

Dinner

Tonight I set the dinner table for
the remnants of my phantom family.
Here is the marriage spent in fantasy,
here is my stillborn brother, here is war
that wiped out all my relatives and tore
my mother’s mind to pieces, here is me,
here is a place beside me for big tree,
and here’s my sister shot down with a roar.
We flipped and landed upside down in hell,
no parachutes, just higher, hotter flames
burning our places right down to our names.
The empty plates have nothing left to tell.
Here is a table, here a fork and knife,
here is the phantom of a better life.

by Mary Meriam, from Conjuring My Leafy Muse

Editor’s Note: At first glance, this doesn’t read like a sonnet. The enjambment fractures the narrative, yet also perfectly complements the content of the poem: a broken family. Upon careful rereading, the rhyme pulls the story together and emphasizes the narrator’s sorrow at the dinner table.

Who are you? by Mary Meriam

Who are you?

I am the unlocked door to the cellar
The cement floor and the flooded washer
The man who said I see everything
The mollusk in the seagull’s beak

The cement floor and the flooded washer
The lost mutt in a ghetto
The mollusk in the seagull’s beak
The wild unweeded garden bed

The lost mutt in a ghetto
The beach towel spread on hot sand
The wild unweeded garden bed
The long fresh nightgown slipping on

The beach towel spread on hot sand
The forest and the fiddlehead fern
The long fresh nightgown slipping on
And though you may not see me

The forest and the fiddlehead fern
Orlando and Paradise Lost
And though you may not see me
I will always wonder who you are

Orlando and Paradise Lost
The man who said I see everything
I will always wonder who you are
I am the unlocked door to the cellar

by Mary Meriam

Editor’s Note: The repetition in this poem threads a possible image of the narrator’s psyche through disparate moments in time. Each time I read it, something else is revealed.