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Category archive for: Carolyn Kizer

Dream of a Large Lady

The large lady laboriously climbs

       down the ladder from a gun emplacement.

She had gone up to contemplate

       the blue view

           and to damage the gun.

She has done neither

       for the view was a baize haze

and the rooted gun immovable in stone.

       So she climbs down the shaky ladder

           with a few rungs missing

carrying her mostly uneaten

           picnic lunch

of which she has consumed a single

       hard-boiled egg

           leaving the shell

not as litter but as symbolism

       on the sullen gun

           in its grey rotunda.

At the foot of the ladder she finds sand;

       and one brown, shuttered house

from which another lady


This one wears a blurry face

       and an orange dress

matching her orange hair

           in a bun.

The large lady perforates along the beach

       on her high-heeled pumps

           by the water’s verge,

as a large, pale water-bird might do.

       When she reaches her own cottage

           near the bay,

she finds a letter from the strange orange lady

       in its crisp white envelope

           lying on the table:

“I am an admirer of your poesy,

       so I am baking you a fresh peach pie,”

           the nice note reads.

“Do come to my house near the bay,”

       she speaks in her head,

           “Orange lady who admires my poesy.”

“We will sit here quietly, in twlilght,

       and drink a cup of carefully brewed tea.”

With a sigh, she puts aside the memory

       of the grey gun she could only decorate

           but not destroy.

Though clear in her eye she holds a vision;

       the thin, ceremonious shell

           of her eaten egg

painted by the sun against the sky.

from YinFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 1984
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

In the First Stanza,

first, I tell you who I am:

shadowed, reflective, small,

pool in an unknown glade.

It is easy to be a poet,

brim with transparent water.

In autumn, the leaves blow down

over the ruffled surface,

sink to rest, then resume their cycle.

In the second stanza, you laugh,

skipping pebbles across my surface

charmed by the spreading circles.

In the trees’ perpetual twilight

you are alone with the poet.

Gently, you shake your head.

You know me as turbulent ocean

clouded with thunder and drama.

In the third stanza, I die.

Still, I insist on composing

as my throes go on and on.

I clench the pen in my teeth

making those furious scratches

that you will see, much later,

as graceful calligraphy:

drift of sails that sketch my horizon.

My hands, in the fourth stanza,

with the agonized clutch of the dying,

draw your hand beneath the covers.

I beg you to travel my body

till you find the forest glade.

Then your hand, like a leaf in autumn,

is pulled into the pool.

The rest of you doesn’t believe it.

The fifth stanza begins

with water, and quiet laughter.

Then I die. I really die.

You pick up this piece of paper

You read it aloud and explain me,

my profile cast in prose.

It drops from your hand like a leaf.

This is all part of the cycle.

Then, in the final stanza,

I tell you who I am.

from YinFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 1984
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.