We slumber heavy in the night
so long as hills are bare and white,
and what is real, is pressing. What
can you do but answer. What can
you do but take my jaw in hand
and answer. And what can I, but
know you while night visions press us, hot
in our down blanket. What cannot
be spoken we will speak with night
still resting on us €”your air
on me, and my warm shoulder bare
to you €”real, real as day is light
until we wake in morning’s cold,
when mountains, rimming in the gold
of cresting sun, can no more be
deferred. What can we do but rise.
That I could stop you with my gaze
as you work your task of leaving me.
Elizabeth Pinborough graduated from Yale Divinity School with a Master of Arts degree in religion and literature. She desires to resurrect women’s voices from the past, and through her writing she seeks to create a space for feminist historical and theological exploration. Her poetic journeys include “A Shaker Sister’s Hymnal,” which first appeared in Dialogue and which now appears in Fire in the Pasture: Twenty-first Century Mormon Poets. Most recently she collected a series of essays and photographs titled Habits of Being: Mormon Women’s Material Culture, which is being published by Exponent II in spring 2012. Her credo is, “Snails are people, too.”
Catch a white mare and bridle her
With an ivy bridle; braid her mane
With marigolds; go in the slender
Light with her to the water tender
Where the fish rise and count the flames.
Free the mare; if she trumpets like a swan,
Say your beloved’s name and pray till dawn.
Mask your body with horsemint; turn
Away from the sun; do not go toward
It all day; do not wash or burn.
Fiddlehead of the hart’s tongue fern €”
Seethe it in milk; eat it from a gourd.
If you meet him keep your body mute.
Pick no flower dove and eat no fruit.