Two poems from Megan Grumbling’s Dwelling
followed by a note on the author
I fill my glass with fog, sometimes, the grace
of it diffuse: You, gaseous somewhere. Breath
is loss; confess: A palm before my face
grows damp with gone. It’s maybe in the wet
of some man’s retina, the water runs
once it has left, or in the perfect beads,
come morning, warm brown bread with cinnamon
leaves on a cobalt glaze. The pristine weep
of this iced gin I drain, I praise – a flow
through pirates, dodos, dinosaurs, all pores
perspiring steam of you, of us. And so
it goes, just borrowed. So the haunting, pour
or frost, as fluid as the thirst you’d slake,
a need now clear, now prism, now opaque.
Her flesh finds fissures in the ocher, mask
and mantle, lures – a flushed cheek through the eye
hole, tapered chin in wide glazed ruse of mouth.
The girl she wears is headed for the low
world, other shadows; here, takes two cloaked men
to swagger that three-headed dog, four blue-
jeaned legs to stomp and fume the master’s lust.
Big figures, epic craft. And yet enshrined
in plaster, gesso, pulp, each glimpse of skin
bares elder mysteries – that slack male arm
up roan Demeter’s sleeve, an elbow’s crook
askew in indigo. Huge armatures,
tall tell. But through those gods, small hands charm far
within, far stranger source: a girl, the dark.
Megan Grumbling’s collection Booker’s Point was awarded the 2015 Vassar Miller Prize for Poetry and the 2017 Maine Book Award for Poetry. Her work has been awarded the Poetry Foundation’s Ruth Lilly Fellowship, the Robert Frost Foundation Award, a Hawthornden Fellowship at Hawthornden Castle, Scotland, and a St. Boltoph Emerging Artist Award, and has appeared in Poetry, Crazyhorse, The Iowa Review, Memorious, Best of the Net, Best New Poets, and elsewhere. She is librettist of the spoken opera Persephone in the Late Anthropocene, co-created with the late composer Denis Nye. She reviews theater for the Portland Phoenix, serves as poetry reviews editor for The Café Review, and teaches at Southern Maine Community College and the University of New England.
“Vapors” first appeared in Baltimore Review and “Tall Puppets” first appeared in Memorious.