Marilyn L. Taylor, former Poet Laureate of Wisconsin (2009 and 2010) and the city of Milwaukee (2004 and 2005) is the author of six poetry collections. Her award-winning poems and essays have appeared in many anthologies and journals, including Poetry, American Scholar, Measure, and Able Muse. Marilyn taught poetry and poetics at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and her column on poetic craft appeared for five years in The Writer magazine.
Leaving the Clinic
Baja California, 2012
Having carried your own
to the edge of the water
you bent your body sharply
like a broken stick, until
you were kneeling in the sand.
If the world weren’t so damned
beautiful, you said, maybe
dying wouldn’t be so bad–
But then you saw how a small rain
had pocked the creamy skin
of the beach overnight
causing snails to leave their sanctuaries,
and the pursed hibiscus buds
to fatten and explode,
and with the sea collapsing around us,
thinning to a glassy sheen
that blinded you
you hid your face
behind your hands and shook
with unrequited love.
What Becomes of Us
Remember, my love, when some of us were female,
others male? We were Eve
and we were Adam. Sperm / egg. Stamen / ovule.
We lived, we perished. Now we interweave,
pressing together in these tangled spaces
dank with mold and liquefaction, cleave
to one another with our weedy faces
pressed against the soil, and cell by cell
we melt into the earth’s beclotted places.
But soon the muck—enlivened by the swell
of us, our bygone selves—begins to spread,
to undulate with curling, sensual
upheavals all around a fallen seed,
a grain that’s landed in the loamy green
vicinity of us. Something lies ahead,
my love. Somewhere an outlaw gene,
furtively at first, will start to generate
an impulse that we couldn’t have foreseen–
an overwhelming drive to procreate,
reproduce, multiply. And of necessity
we pull apart again and separate,
practice the damp rituals of botany—
unfurling, reeking from the sod,
resplendent in our grand duality.
What becomes of us? We become God,
my love. Look at us. How can we fail
to see that we are God?