Readers: Welcome to the November issue (# 87) of Plume.
November: and here in Florida, the first breath of fall. Which amounts to: the pool receiving the swimmer not languidly, its temperature’s familiar, but in a cool embrace, and come Halloween Twizzlers not melting into goo-ish filaments in Fortnite’s ebony glove. Such are the meager delights of our southern clime. But – fear not: greater pleasures await you in this issue. To get things started, our “secret poem,” the roused and rousing AS THE LAND LISTENS, from Plume poet Margo Berdeshevsky, introduced by the author.
Introduction by the author, Margo Berdeshevsky to AS THE LAND LISTENS
These are nor days of wine and roses nor miracles and wonder, though songs of our earlier years promised such metaphors. But this is—the long distance call. These are days of death throes for democracy, not only in America, but worldwide. In Europe, where I write today, many believe it is the literal end of Europe as we know it, thanks in no small measure to dire intentions and cruelty of the powerful, globally. I hope, along with many, that death throes might yet hold sparks, however subtle, for life throes in the making. After the end… after the beginning… But these have been dire days. We know that. Americans, only recently were pasting black squares over their faces on social media, supposed symbols of mourning. Some understood the invitation to disappearance of women. I mourn, but I will not disappear. There are too many reasons to mourn. Justice in America is being gagged and the enraged, entitled patriarchy only believe in their own right to power. So I was not, am not not pasting a black flag over my face, aware, alive, ashamed, anonymous, a speck of dust in the light. But I am a woman and a poet with a voice to not be silenced. Alive in the first century of the end of this civilization, in a battle for shouting truths to the ugly, and to surviving that Congressional horde of angry beasts forbidding love and protecting their penises. Angry for the end of democracy? Yes. Is it? Is civilization breathing its final air, when women are not allowed to love or to speak the truth? Death of romanticism, birth of battles for dignity? Yes. There are, in fact, too many reasons to mourn. So no black flags, but rise and write, and sing it out, shout it between vines of truth and blood-rose thorns and mold. Tell it on mountains no matter how small, until winds carry it from soul to soul and the hurricanes of lies die. Here is one poem: “AS THE LAND LISTENS.”
AS THE LAND LISTENS
Women are gathering on shore after shore after sharp rocked shore, bodies and their memories merged, bruise colored storm clouds shifting with words and swords and naked breasts, and stories to tell. Women like me who never wanted to be warriors, who loved and still love silk and tenderness and a man who makes love with that song-made-famous “slow hand.” And the powerful males and wannabe powerful are wagging their power like dying gods. Old skins.
When it is over/ if it is over will women forget the bodies they did not want on top of them, the mouths they did not want to kiss or love, yet wailing, whoppa, whoppa, whoppa! the way one who told me I was his wife in the dark did, and I knew I was not but I so needed to be loved… Wanted some girl-child costume of love, I let him pretend. Until a morning I looked at my black eye in a tiny hand-mirror above my bed.
And he had left my bed and my road and my body at dawn – and looking at my bruised eye, broken self and dimmed-eye sense of self, I remembered the kindergarten teacher who had told me, now dear, you have to understand the little boy who beat you – who’d beaten me – because his daddy was in the war. I had forgotten. I had buried that shame and that eye and that teacher and that boy like a dead cat. After-all, thirty plus years had passed since I was taught to understand aggression and violence and to excuse it because a man may be forgiven, a boy must be understood, and forgiven. Because.
Women in the land of my birth are gathering. Angry ravens, gathering like wounded and “woke” warriors on shore after sharp rocked shore. “Never more.” Shouts into the skies and into one another’s eyes. And quiet as I am, my deep notes are rising. Silken as I am, my claws, lengthening. Matured body and arthritic hips and brave and not very brave and hopeful and hopeless soul as I am, hermit woman as I often am, love-hungry as I may be, still be – I am joining with the many.
I remember Jacob battling the angel in the Bible my dictatorial father deemed I must learn. And I think of this sentence, “I will not let thee go unless thou bless me.” Hurts have healed and torn open and healed. But who must be blessed and who must bless, and in the French language, “blesser” means to wound. Is blessing a blessing, or a wound, then? Or when will the sound of hope and the silence of peace echo between cloud and rock and branch?
When I was a child I was hardly a child. Old soul, some called me. Actress learning to be a hundred different women, not only the one in my sheets and ballerina’s mirror. Hand stroking her own flesh, her own skull, there there darling. When you are a grown woman you will be a powerful one. There there actress. When you are a star the moon will hold you until the arms called love appear and surround you. None will harm you. None will degrade or demean you. Your words and your beauty will be both canopy and quilt, and you will sleep with blessing and be touched by angels.
When I was a child, I dreamt as a child. When I became a woman I carried childish things within my skin, sewn with invisible threads known only to my locked in heart. When I became an old woman – the woman I am now – I heard the others with bodies not so different than my own, breasts and cunts and hips and blondness, howls and yearning in my teeth. And I walked to shores to straighten my body, pull my shoulders back, open my mind – and stand with theirs.
Women are gathering on shore after shore after sharp rocked shore, bodies and their/our memories “blesh-ing” like bruise colored storm clouds with swords and naked breasts and stories to tell. Women like me who never wanted to be warriors, who loved and still love silk and tenderness and a man who makes love with that song-made-famous “slow hand.” And I walked to the edge of an old and used up world and hummed a tune of invention. I unpainted bruises and colored my eyes transparent. Qui garde son ame d’enfant ne veillit jamais. That was written in invisible ink on the ground in front of me, and I spit on the ground and turned three times round, tiny ritual of magic. Magic? Why age? Why live forever with such a mantra? No answer. But a black bird fell out of my heart and she sang.
MARGO BERDESHEVSKY, born in New York city, often writes and lives in Paris. Before The Drought, is her newest collection, (Glass Lyre Press, September 2017.) (In an early version, it was finalist for the National Poetry Series.) Berdeshevsky is author as well of Between Soul & Stone, and But a Passage in Wilderness, (Sheep Meadow Press.) Her book of illustrated stories, Beautiful Soon Enough, received the first Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Award for Fiction Collective Two (University of Alabama Press.) Other honors include the Robert H. Winner Award from the Poetry Society of America, a portfolio of her poems in the Aeolian Harp Anthology #1 (Glass Lyre Press,) the & Now Anthology of the Best of Innovative Writing, and numerous Pushcart Prize nominations. Her works appear in the American journals: Poetry International, New Letters, Kenyon Review, Plume, The Collagist, Tupelo Quarterly, Gulf Coast, Southern Humanities Review, Pleiades, Prairie Schooner, The American Journal of Poetry, & Jacar Press—One, among many others. In Europe her works have been seen in The Poetry Review (UK), Levure Littéraire, The Creative Process, The Wolf, Europe, Siècle 21, & Confluences Poétiques. A multi genre novel, Vagrant, and a hybrid of poems, Square Black Key, wait at the gate. She may be found reading from her books in London, Paris, New York City, or somewhere new in the world. Her Letters from Paris may be found in Poetry International, here: http://pionline.wordpress.com/category/letters-from-paris/ For more info kindly see: http://margoberdeshevsky.com
Ah – thank you – all, for the many kind words regarding our new website. A team effort, to be sure: Roberto Maiocchi, Christina Mullin, David Breskin, Isabel Breskin, Chelsea Hadley, Mary Bisbee-Beek, Amanda Newell, The Shifting Foundation. And others I might have overlooked.
For those of you who might’ve missed the full story of PLUME’s recent migrations, you can catch up via the editor’s note atop the October Poets Speak column.
The new print anthology is, oh, more half full. Plume 7: New Poems 2018 will debut at AWP in Portland. We have lined up a splendid roster for our annual launch reading, this year at CARGO, a stone’s throw (if you’re the reincarnation of Roberto Clemente), from the convention center:
Thursday, March 28, 2019 Plume Launch: Plume 7: New Poems 2018
6 to 8 PM (Come Early To Browse and Shop!)
CARGO 81 SE Yamhill St, Portland, OR 97214
Details to follow in due course.
I hope to see you there!
Our cover art this month comes from Jacob Aue Sobol, from his series Arrivals and Departures, who observes in an article in the British Journal of Photography, “I’m looking at the world but honestly, I would prefer to take part. Maybe you can feel this eagerness to take part in my pictures,” says Jacob Aue Sobol, whose mid-career retrospective is a tribute to his father
Born in Denmark in 1976, Sobol studied at the Fatamorgana Danish School of Art Photography from 1998-1999. In Autumn 1999, he went to live in the Tiniteqilaaq settlement in Greenland, and mainly stayed with his Greenlandic girlfriend Sabine and her family for the next three years. The resulting book, Sabine, was published in 2004, and nominated for the 2005 Deutsche Börse Photography Prize.
In 2005, Aue Sobol travelled with a film crew to Guatemala, to make a documentary about a young Mayan girl’s first journey to the ocean. The following year he returned alone and he met the indigenous Gomez-Brito family, and stayed with them for a month. His story on the family won the Daily Life Stories award in the 2006 World Press Photo.
In 2006 he moved to Tokyo, and shot a series of images that won the 2008 Leica European Publishers Award. I, Tokyo was published by Actes Sud (France), Apeiron (Greece), Dewi Lewis Publishing (Great Britain), Edition Braus (Germany), Lunwerg Editores (Spain) and Peliti Associati (Italy). Sobol became a nominee at Magnum Photos in 2007, and a full member in 2012.
Aue Sobol has also made work in Denmark, Thailand, America, Russia and China; his most recent book, With And Without You, collects a selection of images made over his 20-year career to date. On his website, With And Without You is described as a tribute to his father; “Printed on Jacob’s 40th birthday, 20 years after the death of his father, it is a compilation of all the projects that he has made and that his father never got to see.”
Finally, as is our custom, a few recent titles from Plume contributors:
Angie Estes Parole
Charles Harper Web Sidebend World
Natasha Trethewey Monument: Poems New and Selected
Daneen Wardrop Silk Road
Max Ritvo/Sarah Ruhl Letters from Max
Max Riutvo/ Louise Glück The Final Voicemails
Stephanie Burt Advice from the Lights
That’s it, for now.
I do hope you enjoy the issue!
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