Mallard Psalm by Cynthia Hallen

Mysterious March morning storm —
Not lonesome — desiccate, but warm.
A male duck lying in the leaves —
Not living — emerald, one grieves.
A branch serves as a sextant stave —
Piled stones on leaves appoint a grave —
Prompt hyacinths on higher hill
Could contemplate the silenced bill —

Nearby his counterpart — awake —
Who waits — not wallows — for his sake —
In curly willow’s winding shade —
Sits fallow on the spilling grade.
To shudder at the wounded wings —
To stutter from unuttered strings
Of empathy is requisite.
To murmur — spring is dedicate.

26 March 2012, BYU Botany Pond, Provo, Utah
Cynthia L. Hallen is an associate professor in the Department of Linguistics and English Language at BYU. Among other varied and impressive things, she is building an Emily Dickinson Lexicon, a comprehensive dictionary of words in ED’s poems, to help readers, scholars, and international translators better understand the works and words of Dickinson, who explored the realms of nature and religion with exceptional reverence, intelligence, honesty, and spirituality. In addition to scholarly research, Cynthia has a modest but consistent record of awards and publications in creative writing, mainly poems and essays.

*Competition entry*


5 thoughts on “Mallard Psalm by Cynthia Hallen”

  1. I’m grooving on that last word. A fine performance of the Dickinson-sprachgeist. Welcome aboard, Dr. Hallen!


  2. Imitation. Flattery. Punctuation. But I would say this one is a bit more gritty and locally detailed than anything in the first hundred pages of the The Complete Poems.


  3. I know that pond and I was that duck, which facts dawned on me while reading this poem through for the fourth time, making it much more valuable to me. Thank you.


  4. Love the alliterations and rhymes, and how they seem to evoke a sort of rollicking rhythm that is both lovely and kind of start-stop jerky… delicate, kind of like the subject matter.


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