By Marly Youmans

Plague-spell

The village streets abandoned, save for deer
That, brazen, dare to nibble at our trees…

At sunset’s hour, a mild, uncanny light
Beckons us to west windows, curious.

Rain pelts the house, as sudden as a strike,
And just as swiftly drains and dies away.

Will we dismiss the strangeness of this year,
When breath or brush of hand might yield disease?

When customary pleasures took their flight,
And modern ways looked thin or spurious?

Calling, a sidewalk child straddles his bike:
Lazarus, Lazarus, come out to play!

Like seeds tucked into earth, we dream rebirth
Beyond all mortal dread of death and dearth.


Fantasy in a Time of Chaos

Splash across the drift of dreams,
Fly to promised island peace,
Weave a nest from golden gleams
And curl against its sunny fleece…
Listen to the music of the spheres
Sighing with the weight of years,
And, star-like, know
What it means to flame and glow.

There you’ll glitter, night or day,
Not a soul to know your light,
Freed from those who hunt for prey,
Saved from mortal fears and blight,
Roar of war and press of tears,
Bonfire vanities and fears,
Your sunshine beams
Spilled in hid but ceaseless streams.


Death of a Singer

So glad to be a part of this before I got cancer.
I may not be able to sing now, but at least I can look back
at this and be proud.
—Jenny Cooper on singing
in Eric Whitacre’s virtual choir (youtube)

One thread among the thousands, radiance
Lost and found inside a flaring song…
And though you are the ashes in the wind
That sting against a cheek and bring on tears,
Your voice persists in whirling ‘round the world,
As if it sang in now instead of when.

Time knelled your every instant, yet it blunts
Our sense of barbarous grief and devilish wrong—
You’re there, but inaccessible. Some ask who sinned,
Our singer, or her kin? Who whipped up fears
And dread? What godly need or yearning hurled
You forth? How did becoming turn to been?

All questions sink away; the listener hunts
For hints of you, alive inside the song,
Although the myriad of voices blend
The living with the dead, eternity with years…
Such mystery to hear your voice unfurled
And soaring from the far-off realm of Then.

You’ve paid (ah, my sweet Christ!) our mortal price;
We hear you singing “Fly to Paradise.”


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Marly Youmans is the author of fifteen books of poetry and fiction; her most recent book of poetry is The Book of the Red King (Phoenicia Publishing, 2019), and her just-out novel is Charis in the World of Wonders (Ignatius Press.)