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The Fugitive Light

April 3, 2012

by Marly Youmans

Auroral nights, the moon a flick of peel,
When I am dyed in blush of northern lights . . .
The waving colors steal
Across the sky, turn flights
Of sea-green souls to rose, as hard to vase
As flower she who faded in my arms.

What’s light-struck flits, as a sunset raises
Its glowing bars to fence another day
Away from us; as blazes
Die to coal; as one ray
Illuminates in memory your face,
Then darkens like an hour of grave alarms.

In dreams you come to me and take my hand,
And nothing fades or flees when you are there.
On waking, I am unmanned,
Sundering and care
My lot; yet I will bear the daily grace
Of bread and voice recalled and sun that warms.

“The Fugitive Light” pays homage to the young Richard Wilbur of The Beautiful Changes and Other Poems (1947). However, the subject matter of the death of the beloved comes from the elder Mr. Wilbur and his poem “The House” (Anterooms, 2010), evoking his late wife and the longing that comes after death parts those who had the fortune of a happy marriage. Likewise I have ended with the simplicity of his late poems.

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Just published is Marly Youmans’s ninth book, A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage (The Ferrol Sams Award of Mercer University Press, 2012. Chapter one of the novel can be read at Scribd). Her most recent book of poems is The Throne of Psyche, also from Mercer (2011). Forthcoming books of poetry and fiction include the long poem Thaliad from Beth Adams’ Phoenicia Publishing in Montreal.

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  1. April 3, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    Beautiful and sad. My eyes are moist…
    I may never look at another aurora the same way after this.

    • April 3, 2012 at 8:44 pm

      Saline tributes always welcome–thanks, Marja-Leena.

  2. April 4, 2012 at 7:53 am

    “yet I will bear the daily grace
    Of bread and voice recalled and sun that warms”

    another saline tribute for this lovely poem, which so artfully evokes the bittersweet sacrament

    • April 4, 2012 at 9:38 am

      Ah, thank you, hobnailballet! Much appreciated, those salty waters…

  3. April 4, 2012 at 9:43 am

    Thank you, Marly, for the twittering that lead me here.


    • April 4, 2012 at 10:03 am

      Well, I suppose zephyrs will be led by birdsong, one way or another. Thanks!

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