A cento by Marcia Meier
The serpent, that mocker, woke up and pressed against me
In the west the falling light still glows
but here on earth we’ve got a fair supply of everything
If you tasted it, it would first taste bitter
crooning black lullabies in the kitchen,
And now, it is easy to forget
At night, the murmuring calls of chuck-will’s-widows
The moon is a sow
comes home; like he is the Last Emperor
with him in flying collar slim-jim orange
but cops blow him away
Again, brutish necessity wipes its hands
It is like what we imagine knowledge to be:
This loaf’s big with its yeasty rising.
I have reached no conclusions, have erected no boundaries
men drawing lines in the dust.
He called her good and girl. Then she was dead,
I hate them
And the scent of mock orange
(“From the Death of the Fathers” Anne Sexton; “Why is this Age Worse…?” Anna Akhmatova; “Here” Wislawa Szymborska; “At the Fishhouses” Elizabeth Bishop; “Meridian” Amy Clampitt; “Diving into the Wreck” Adrienne Rich; “The Odyssey” Rick Bass; “Song for Ishtar” Denise Levertov; “Spoon River Sadie Louise” Anne Lamott; “The Reception” June Jordan; “DeLiza Spend the Day in the City” June Jordan; “A Far Cry from Africa” Derek Walcott; “At the Fishhouses” Elizabeth Bishop; “Metaphors” Sylvia Plath; “Corsons Inlet” A.R. Ammons; “Tu Do Street” Yusef Yomunyakaa; “Clearances” Seamus Heaney; “Mock Orange” Louise Gluck; “Mock Orange” Louise Gluck)
Marcia Meier is an award-winning writer, developmental book editor and writing coach. Her books include Heart on a Fence (Weeping Willow Books, 2016); Navigating the Rough Waters of Today’s Publishing World, Critical Advice for Writers from Industry Insiders (Quill Driver Books, 2010); and Santa Barbara, Paradise on the Pacific (Longstreet Press, 1996). Her memoir, Face, is forthcoming, as is an anthology, Unmasked, Women Write About Sex and Intimacy After Fifty, co-edited with Kathleen Barry. She is also at work on another book of poetry and photography, titled Ireland, Place Out of Time. Marcia is a member of the Author’s Guild and the Association of Writers and Writing Programs. Visit Marcia’s website at MarciaMeier.com.