Tom Johnson

Poetry Editor


Naming the Dead







Named to assuage our guilt

In this country,

wherever we walk

we must tiptoe over graves

of the vanquished

who lie beneath us

in a continuous spin of sleep,

while we try to forget

the worst things we have done.

But these rivers are omnipotent.

They bloom and cry like newborns.

We cannot live without them.

Yellow bones of butterflies,

holy red maple in seed,

fingernails, and feathers

float for centuries

until they settle

on the riverbottom's

cemetery of sediment.

The cries of the dead

rise like air bubbles.

Listen to the words

exploding in the wind

as it flails its arms

across the surface of the water.

The rivers cannot keep silent.

The Color of Rain

Blue is the color of rain

falling in the night,

and brown is the river

that swallows rain.

Where the sun is

drowning in green

tea tinted water,

there are colors

giving birth in the rain.

ACE Basin

Where the earth opens her mouth to the universe

Three black rivers unfurling their convoluted tongues


Courbet's "l'origine du monde"

Unseen waters flowing to and from the womb

The Painter's Dream

For Kendrick Mayes

The house of wind and brightly painted birds

sharpens its rooftop in the nightstream,

like a baby's tooth, pushed

into warm droughts swirling in the mouth.

Rooms are slowly filling

with alligator skulls

and wood smoke. On shelves

lined with bowls of butterflies,

pearl buttons, shining

chunks of Danish amber,

books, masks, and manmade angels,

strings of owl eyelashes

feather under glass.

In a box

that should be holding

jewels, the enormous yellow

teeth of bears wait for someone

to pick them up and think

about the mouth which held them

with blueberries and trout skeletons,

the tongue that tasted water

melting on mountains so distant

we can only imagine them here

on these salted flooding plains

where swallowing such water

would alter our lives

like a conscious baptism.

Massachusetts native Marjory Wentworth, a resident of Charleston for the past six years, has been publishing poetry for the past four. Her collaborative effort with batik artist Mary Edna Fraser, "Visual Poetry," will be on display at the Gibbes Museum until July 9. Two of the poems here - "ACE Basin" and "The Color of Rain" - appear in her chapbook Nightjars, just issued by the Laurel Publishing Company of Charleston.

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© Copyright by POINT, 1995

Last modified 6/9/95