Two poems from Amy Glynn’s Romance Language
followed by a note on the author
Glass Beach, Fort Bragg
Afterward, the roiled
detritus washes up for days, shifting but always stuck in the wrack-zone’s
back and forth. No one owns
it and no one can really take it away; it has foiled
efforts and it always will. But it does change. Small things accrue
meaning in their accumulation; sharp things do
lose edge to agitation,
the tide recedes across a field of silicate and calcium
and vitreous aggregate. It is the sum
total of everything we will ever break, jettison, discard.
I admit it: I still fail
at being happy enough, though I know what the litter becomes when the tide’s been at it.
When it’s washed and sunlit
the wreckage can seem like treasure. Thrust a hand in and pull it back bleeding, fist full
of sea glass and something sharp you weren’t expecting. I don’t want to sift
through all that anymore; it’s all just words, and after words
empty shells even the birds
know better than to linger over. They were liars, whoever said a long memory was a gift.
Every rangy sidewalk-crack
hollyhock in Bordeaux
says the same damned thing.
Depend on nothing. Nothing
to shore you up, nothing to nourish
or validate, nothing.
They rise up against half the doorways
in town, coming out
of nowhere, staying
local, dressed up anyway,
posing before the stone
walls like florid hookers;
six feet tall or more,
veins displayed, stems
clad in starry hairs,
flexed petals powdered
with pollen as if to make
a point of how privation
shouldn’t stop you. They say
to stand your ground and take it.
Take neglect and turn it
to your advantage, build
a little empire of your own with it.
Turn it to pith and pigment, frill
and flush, flashy colors that look
ridiculously expensive, topaz
and jet, cochineal, Tyrian purple; turn
it to wantonly arrogant
dry fruits not in the business
of attracting anything
because screw that; take
nothing, owe nothing, come out
on top, present your proof
of concept ahead of schedule
and under budget: live
on your own terms like that
and there’s nothing
anyone can do,
though they will want to,
because once you need nothing
you will scare people, you will
make them want to cut you,
but here’s the thing–being hollow
doesn’t really make you stronger
but it does make you harder
to bend, and a structure
built on nothing
is near impossible to bring down.
Amy Glynn is an award-winning poet and essayist whose work appears widely in journals and anthologies including The Best American Poetry. Her first poetry collection, A Modern Herbal, was published by Measure Press. She has been a recipient of the Troubadour Prize, Poetry Northwest’s Carolyn Kizer Award, the Literal Latte Essay Award, the SPUR Award of the Association of Western Writers, scholarships from the Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers conferences and two James Merrill House fellowships, among other honors. She served as the inaugural poet laureate for the cities of Lafayette and Orinda, CA. Her essay collection, My Empire of Dirt, is forthcoming from Berfrois Books. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.