Vox Populi

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Mary Jane White: Axe

voice of Tethys

A man calling grouse or doves
The enveloping chill of the stream in that smallest meadow  
Pools of shadow blurring its tree lines 

Here is a hiding spot I might still wriggle into  
Always the trapped smell of sunlight 

& the oiled axe to split the last of the kindling
& the bank’s rippled edge & the heavy suckerfish

Steady under the running water  
There it is a sunken leg
Now there is a wrongful sight 
Or even the leg floating free beyond a bend 
Slave to the running currents 

The year’s hatchlings impossible to catch  
Anywhere the foot splashes  up  down 
Bodies that are wearied in the end  

A white gate reflecting moonlight  
Erasing the lines of curtilage
The slats as if drunken & wandering freely  
The hinge worked loose from the post 

Itself falling
The slatternly rise over the next boundary
Linking mine to yours  
Mine to another’s 
Leading   leading   
Always to the verge


I believe I am fated   yes   
I have a mild dampened fact for a body 

How did I walk 
What did I run to see

Why set my footprints where 
The dust here is tracked over
At a black metal post  
With swirls   scuffs 
This here was nothing
I believed I would have
Or have any need to relinquish

(c) 2023 Mary Jane White

Mary Jane White is a poet and translator who lives in Waukon, Iowa. Her most recent book is Dragonfly. Toad. Moon. (Press 53, 2022).

Editor’s Note: Tethys was the Greek goddess of freshwater who bore six thousand children to her husband Oceanus. Those children became the rulers of all rivers, streams, lakes, and rain clouds. She was also a devoted mentor and caretaker of Hera who would become Zeus’s wife, and Tethys was also the grandmother of the popular goddess Athena.

Source: Mystic Water Gardens

4 comments on “Mary Jane White: Axe

  1. matthewjayparker
    March 27, 2023

    Nicely in tune with “The Science Behind Streams and Rivers.” Like an Echo….


    • Vox Populi
      March 28, 2023

      Thanks, Matthew. It’s great when we can dove-tail poetry with science.



  2. Loranneke
    March 27, 2023

    Such fresh, new, exquisite lines! A completely convincing dramatic monologue… Thanks, Michael.


    • Vox Populi
      March 27, 2023

      Yes, I’ve loved Mary Jane’s work for a long time.



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This entry was posted on March 27, 2023 by in Opinion Leaders and tagged , , , , , , , , .

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