Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Tangled Hair

Tangled Hair

With a certain desperation,
I eat, shower and dress
each morning, pretending
to be a real person, pretending
to have a job. If I start a poem or story
or begin work on a novel or painting
before I am dressed, I might be in my pajamas
when the real worker comes home.
He might think me lazy, shiftless.

My work seems so peripheral,
so unappreciated
in the larger world. No one cares
about the poetry, stories, or art
of an unknown artist.
My work sloughs onto the floor and vanishes
and I am left
an untidy housewife in an untidy house.

Thus, I dress, if I am stubborn or lucky,
and comb my hair
before I peer through the door
to see if the muse waits
with an apple
or poisoned apple
or shotgun
to tempt or slay me.

Sometimes, however, the muse is on me
before I rise.
She grabs me by the throat
and stuffs me with tenuous
but unshakable visions
and sits on my until, in pajamas
and tangled hair, I write
or paint

or exhaust myself into the impossible hours
trying to catch the ephemeral
the wraith of vision, held out
and snatched back. The muse teases,
hiding and reappearing.
I feel like a blacksmith
trying with a sledge hammer
to nail a moonbeam
to a gossamer strand.

Mary Stebbins Taitt
3/20/2007, 070320-1d
(3/20/2007) Posted by Picasa

Saturday, March 10, 2007


In the hospital bathroom, I come face to face with Marialita,

nagual woman. Thousands of her stare

from rainbow beveled edges. Wild hair, the forested tunnels

of her eyes. She beckons me

to remember. I remember her

lying in a poison-ivy swamp, looking

for the color red.

Looking for red

and being circled by a redbird: scarlet tanager.

With me inside her. Redbird.


The next week was orange.

A fox came.


with its muddy feet

looking at me, just as Marialita does.

Later, she looked at a man I'd never met

and I told him about the caboose in his back yard.

Red. His world leaked into my head

through Marialita, nagual woman.

No dreams,

these, except as I dream now,

as I dream my life away,

walking up hot stairs in the hospital.

On her belly, my mother lies waiting. She waits

for glue to dry in her broken vertebrae. Just mended.

No nagual woman I, no shaman,

but a helpless daughter.

She will take my hands,

but only if I do not offer healing.

She wants to die.

Tanagers, foxes, and cabooses are tiny magics.

They don't make me holy. Or powerful enough to heal.

When I touch, when I lay on my hands

on someone, healing, they ask for more.

Or smile and say simply: thank you.

I want much more; I want a miracle. People die:

my father, my friend Judy, my sister-in-law, Diane.

My mother calls across the veils to my father

and I hear him answer.

Marialita bleeds. Her red, red blood

pools in my finger tips. I know it can't stop

my mother from slipping away.

Mary Stebbins Taitt

For Margaret

For Poetry Thursday theme Red

(A significant revision of a three-year-old poem)

070310-3a; 2c, 5/19/2004; 1c, 5-10-04

earlier version sent to The American Poetry Review, 5-20-04, rejected


In the clamorous dark:  roar of water, endless green rush,

and your smile.  Damp but not dampened, in pearls of spray. 


Our drowsy boat nods 

in the shallows.  Even at night, gulls sail through cloaks of mist, flashing


sudden white and speckled wings.  With one hand, you steady the skiff,

with the other, reach for me


as I step to the centerboard.  Eddies whirl

around us.  The little boat trembles.  You let rough hemp


slide through your hands.  Release the skiff

into the froth.  Steer us into the current.


A tumbled moon sails over the water.  Faint light caresses

your face.  Your hands


slip into my shadowed places

Clouds race.  Water plunges. 


My breath.  Your hands.  We surge

downstream, laughing.  Wild ride. 


Splash of water,

taste of sea.








Mary Stebbins Taitt

for Keith Taitt

070309-2a; 1c, 11-10-02, 1st, at Niagara