Literary Yard

Search for meaning

By: Phoebe Marrall

These I saw: small onions laid
with their root discs punctuating
the longitude poles. Polar caps,
yes, navels to the earth where
their buried unions still hold.

That space along the stalls,
unpeopled on this damp morning,
stops me (for it insists), with the
white parking lines leaping
to the distant edge of gray asphalt,
and to the gray and black
of my mind’s caverns.
There is beauty and there is
the comfort of isolation,
desolation remembered.
Why (I ask myself)
should I crave this comfort,
which would seem black, dead?

I walk in this same privacy
where the dead black
chicken house vibrates in the stink
of manure, and winds from the west,
and the dead black of a remembered
gas tank rising by the road?
Does the pensive void pull me
to the empty, and therefore personal,
paving, begetting a sage
from my wilderness to give life
to the vacancy?


Phoebe Marrall, orphaned at the age of nine, was a survivor of The Depression and of a grueling childhood. When she died in 2017 at the age of eighty-four, her daughters Jane Hendrickson and Camille Komine inherited hundreds of poems she had written. They remained unpublished during her lifetime, but it is the intention of her daughters that a collection be compiled for readers to appreciate. “Relief, Have You a Name?” is currently a work in progress, being edited by Gayle Jansen Beede.

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