Lodestar Quarterly

Lodestar Quarterly
Figure reaching for a star Issue 15 • Fall 2005 • Featured Lodestar Writer • Poetry


Marilyn Hacker

Blood's risks, its hollows, its flames
Exchanged for the pull of that song
Bone-colored road, bone-colored sky
Through the white days of the storm

Claire Malroux, "Storm"
Translated by Marilyn Hacker

Once out of the grip of desire,
or, if you prefer, its embrace,
free to do nothing more than admire
the sculptural planes of a face
(are you gay, straight or bi, are you queer ?)
you still tell your old chaplet of names
which were numinous once, you replace
them with adjectives : witty, severe,
trilingual ; abstracting blood's claims,
blood's risks, its hollows, its flames.

No craving, no yearning, no doubt,
no repulsion that follows release,
no presence you can't do without,
no absence an hour can't erase :
the conviction no reason could rout
of being essentially wrong
is dispelled. What feels oddly like peace
now fills space you had blathered about
where the nights were too short or too long,
exhanged for the pull of that song.

But peace requires more than one creature
released from the habit of craving
on a planet that's mortgaged its future
to the lot who are plotting and raving.
There are rifts which no surgeon can suture
overhead, in the street, undersea.
The bleak plain from which you are waving,
mapped by no wise, benevolent teacher
is not a delight to the eye :
bone-colored road , bone-colored sky.

You know that the weather has changed,
yet do not know what to expect ,
with relevant figures expunged
and predictions at best incorrect.
Who knows on what line you'll be ranged
and who, in what cause, you will harm ?
What cabal or junta or sect
has doctored the headlines, arranged
for perpetual cries of alarm
through the white days of the storm ?

Published in Bloom and PN Review (U.K.)

Marilyn Hacker

National Book Award-winning poet Marilyn Hacker's most recent book is Desesperanto. Her previous collection, Squares and Courtyards, received the Publishing Triangle's first Audre Lorde Award for Lesbian Poetry in 2001. She received the Lenore Marshall Award of the Academy of American Poets and a Lambda Literary Award in 1994 for Winter Numbers, her Selected Poems received the Poets' Prize in 1996, Going Back to the River received a Lambda Literary Award in 1990, and she received an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2004. Her translations include Birds and Bison, poems by Claire Malroux, and She Says by Vénus Khoury-Ghata.

Go To: Issue 15 or Lodestar Quarterly home page