Carolyne Wright

Endecasyllabics: About the Women (Alma, Ruthie)
September 30, 2021 Wright Carolyne

Endecasyllabics: About the Women (Alma, Ruthie)


The lion-maned poet holds court on our blue
divan, reminiscing on her Aegean
days—tramping the beaches of Santorini,
bare-bouldered Hellenic hills almost too bright
to countenance—she steps into her husband’s
huge sandal prints. Tawny cloud of her hair flows
down her shoulders, ashes from her Virginia
Slims scatter over the sofa’s blue roses.
She props naked feet against the arm rest and
asks us: “Who else could have understood that sky,
that purest cerulean picked out by stars?
Whose words burned into the oracular stones?”
We exchange looks—are we supposed to answer?
His feet were more bruised, his form more broken than
her rose, burned to ash in Orphic shade. But she
goes on praying at the altar of his art.


We empty her ashtray and refill her glass,
sit cross-legged on the polished wood-plank floor
eye-level with her ankles. Outside, through cracked
jalousies, Ruthie the Duck Lady roller-
blades by, in red lace-up boots and Santa Fe
flounced skirts, Jackson Brewery straw hat jammed down
over her greasy curls.  A clutch of mallard
ducks, adolescents still fledged in yellow fuzz,
are waddling as fast as their flat orange feet
can slap the cobbled paving stones behind her.
Behind them, a buggy driver hauls back on
his mule, yells at Ruthie, Hey, baby! Move on
over!  But she slow-skates straight ahead, curses
stream between her teeth in a blue billow. Her
ducks veer off, spooked by the buggy’s painted wheels.

Carolyne Wright’s latest book is This Dream the World: New & Selected Poems (Lost Horse Press, 2017), whose title poem received a Pushcart Prize and appeared in The Best American Poetry 2009.  Her ground-breaking anthology, Raising Lilly Ledbetter: Women Poets Occupy the Workspace (Lost Horse, 2015), received ten Pushcart Prize nominations. A Seattle native who has lived and taught all over the country, and on fellowships in Chile, Brazil, India and Bangladesh, Wright has 16 earlier books and anthologies of poetry, essays, and translation; she currently teaches for Richard Hugo House in Seattle. A Contributing Editor for the Pushcart Prizes, she has received NEA and 4Culture grants, and a Fulbright Scholar Award will take her back to Bahia, Brazil post-CoVid-19.