Elisa A. Garza: Katherine, Making the Most of Henry V

In 1415 Henry V of England, convinced he had claim to France by inheritance, invaded. Nearly five years later, he had defeated the French armies and took the princess Katherine as his bride to seal the treaty that recognized him as heir of France. 

An Invasion, An Offer 

At least he is young, she thinks. 
She would ask the messenger for his words, 
and to tell her his looks, the way he frowned, 
no laughed, at her father's meager offer. 
A few minor dukedoms! She already knows 
that he must have all or nothing. 

The War, the Wait 

Would he move over her, she wonders, 
as he now rides over France, slow, and sure 
only of a victorious outcome? 
Que magnifique! Surely he would make 
strong love after so much war? 
She is learning the English, 
to loosen her tongue from its heavy sounds, 
and blushes at the looseness to come. 

Consummation 

She feels his hands hot in hers, 
listens to his fractured French— 
he is nervous, bubbling like champagne! 
And she can only stare, 
think of the world they will make together, 
the waiting finally over.

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Elisa A. Garza: Philomela Reads Her Weave

"[s]he set up her threads on a barbarian loom and wove a scarlet design on a white ground, which pictured the wrong she had suffered." 
from Ovid, Metamorphoses, Book VI 

Procne, dear sister, into this cloth 
I have woven our sad story, 
but the white wool will dry your tears, 
as it has dried mine. 
I trust these images to you, 
worked on a crude loom 
built from twigs and vines 
pulled through the window. 
Remember our servant, old Oryia, 
how she taught even my stubborn fingers 
to weave a scene with grace? 
Her sharp voice comes back to me in chants: 
The weave tells the woman's life. 
The cloth reveals a woman's quality. 
How we laughed under her stern looks! 
Even her face would smile at such fine fabric, 
a weave smooth and pure as sand. 
You will recognize me in this work, 
in the tight squares of my weave. 

Do you perceive the royal ship and sails 
and your husband's cloak (scarlet against the white)? 
Father always wears stripes. 
I have also outlined myself with red, 
my tunic white with innocence. 
See your husband Tereus charm 
Father on bended knee? 
He convinces Father to allow a visit. 
Eager to see you, I hug my thanks. 
Now I know that the gods 
must be punishing us all. 
The omen of Mother's death is true— 
I have not escaped the tragedy of my birth. 

These red crescents show the ocean— 
our journey on a sea of blood. 
The tower rises, also colored red 
with the shame of Tereus's deeds. 
Sister, I did not know how to display his violence . . . 
I cannot even bear to think of it, 

his heaviness on top of me like a storm. 
Procne, I long to see your face. 
On the voyage, I dreamed of our talks, 
the walks we would take together, 
arms around each other's waists, 
our heads so close they touch. 
Oh, to be girls again, our only trouble 
setting the loom for our next tapestry. 

This next part is not as clear, 
but you must see: I screamed curses 
at your husband for his actions, 
and he cut out my tongue. 
This I show you, and how I bled 
and bled red from my mouth. 
I traded my jewelry for thread, 
and wove this sad message 
under twelve quarter moons. 
Dear sister, my story is told. 
Come quickly, for I am done with weeping.

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Elisa A. Garza: Winter Beach

Padre Island

A man and a woman walk the sand 
only they and the gulls, 
the sky four shades of blue, 
horizon a white mist. 
They stand in surf 
under a rounding moon 
dull as an antique coin, 
sand sinking under their feet. 
If this was a romance, 
they would walk holding hands, 
then watch green waves collapse 
into smooth brown planes of glass. 
He would stand behind her 
and she would lean on him 
while the wind touched 
his face with her hair. 
If they were strangers, 
they would have walked 
from opposite directions, 
each stopping to watch 
the cawing gulls swoop, 
wind-jerked, over red guts, 
fight over silver heads 
left by a fisherman. 
If they crossed their arms 
into Xs tight and hard as pretzels, 
eyes closed to the gulls, to the blues 
and browns and whites of this scene, 
the wind would say good-bye 
for them, their mouths and ears 
closed to this beach, to each other. 
Neither knows how it is supposed to go.

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John Muro: Adrift

Twilight’s turning out the daytime sky as if
it was a pilot light, blue flame fluttering into
vapor, leaving the edges of heaven fringed
in rippled scatter. Shadows lengthening as
the last play of light is pulled down to water.
Overhead, the hushed, dust-soft sweep of bats,
the slow, easy lilt of wind dawdling in languor,
and star’s sinking between clouds in bright idleness.
Leaf-burdened branches catch and then release a cold,
celibate moon into apertures of orange-yellow light.
And I see how this may well be the way life abandons 
us at some near-distant, mystical hour. Luminous
in parting, it, too, becomes a thing unburdened and,    
set adrift, brightly burns as it spins away from us.

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John Muro: Andantino

                 - After Debussy’s String Quartet in G Minor: Third Movement
 
Calls to mind the disquieting
Lull and puddled velvet that
comes just after receding tides
unravel into an ampersand of
foam and fall back to water,
thickset in calm, aglint without
motion, revealing where grief
gathers as surf recoils or that
hushed, holy space between
breaths, with air held in a kind
of peaceful penitence, neither
moving in nor out, soft as wide,
immaculate lawns at twilight
or the momentary stoppage of
the heart that comes on just as
hope departs, leaving an undulant
wake and fractures of light
blossoming in abundance and
the sound of idle water rising
and what amounts to a life near-
drowning taken back to shore

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John Muro: To My Grandchildren

Gathering up this aging heart
that’s loosened and fallen again,
unable to rise, leaving a space
inside me while watching you
sleep, hurtling aimlessly into
dream, after a day seaside
collecting shells and snails,
housing them in bright buckets
and counting each one like
wishes carried upon incoming
tides crusted with light and
then taking in, by firelight,
the day as it undresses and
puts on a night-time sky,
with story upon story told
or to be continued like your
blissful lives that I pray are
no less full and never-ending
convinced that this earth may
well be our only heaven and
the best we can do is to try
and hold such days close for
safekeeping and keep loss at
bay, and so what I’m now
asking is to forgive those
of us who, deep in life’s
winter, watch over you and
once again dream of being
young while hoping we’ve
bequeathed something of
worth you might hold onto
and never outgrow.

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Monty Jones: Contemporaries

The ordinary thought
is that our contemporaries
are now alive during our own lives.
But look at this stone axe,
or trace your fingers
across the red paint on this rock
where a deer can still be seen.
 
Or read the Odyssey, Book XXIII,
where Penelope realizes
that Odysseus has come home.
Or witness Lear, mad in the storm,
or listen to Maria Yudina playing
Mozart, say the Fantasia, K. 475.
 
Who will not find these lives 
overlapping with our own, 
their time our present moment?
Who will fail to recognize 
the hands and the eyes
that shaped these creations?
 
The same as in the far future
when something, or its robot,
even from a distant world,
sifts the jumbled remains
of an archaic streambed
or at the mouth of a glacier
and finds what it believes
to be some trace of the human,
 
something from our own time,
from this city before it burned,
something we could not take
on the long road to the north,
our only hope then that someone
would come to value it
as we did in our day,
let us say a square of bronze
stamped with five words
from the Book of Ephesians:
“Be kind to one another.” 

For more on Monty Jones, please see our Authors page.