Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Marthe Reed and Proust, two of two

The "springtime virulence" of Marcel's memory circling Proust's stupidly devious M. Vineuil, his presumptively fragile (though robust) daughter, and the overwhelming mystery of the endearing hawthorn-blossoms' whiteness with their bitter almond scent (bearing his passion) becomes the sounding ground for Marthe Reed's second lively offering this month, though her poem follows Proust's lyrical voice beyond the literal occasion into the awareness of feminine exile and (with luck) the compensation of imagination. Text flows into text, mind through mind, voice into voice.

from Swann's Way

As we were liable, there, to meet M. Vinteuil, who held very strict views on "the deplorable untidiness of young people, which seems to be encouraged in these days," my mother would first see that there was nothing out of order in my appearance, and then we would set out for the church. It was in these 'Month of Mary' services that I can remember having first fallen in love with hawthorn-blossom. The hawthorn was not merely in the church, for there, holy ground as it was, we had all of us a right of entry; but, arranged upon the altar itself, inseparable from the mysteries in whose celebration it was playing a part, it thrust in among the tapers and the sacred vessels its rows of branches, tied to one another horizontally in a stiff, festal scheme of decoration; and they were made more lovely still by the scalloped outline of the dark leaves, over which were scattered in profusion, as over a bridal train, little clusters of buds of a dazzling whiteness.… (Moncrieff trans., pp 60-62)


['there was nothing out of order']
          --Marthe Reed

there was nothing out of order
that I can remember
in love with hawthorn

scattered in profusion
a swift

girl in white
so fine a point
to remain outside

and only passion
somewhat boyish
to restrain a smile

as though in a transparency
a bitter
colour, in which I imagined

an intense vitality
almost red in
springtime virulence, the irritant

latent in her
even for knowing

all the wretchedness of exile
the farthest limit
scattered its

water and gates
the balmy scent of the lime-trees


Marthe Reed has published two books, Gaze (Black Radish Books) and Tender Box, A Wunderkammer with drawings by Rikki Ducornet (Lavender Ink), as well as three chapbooks, post*cards: Lafayette a Lafayette (with j/j hastain), (em)bodied bliss and zaum alliterations, all as part of the Dusie Kollektiv Series. Her poetry has appeared in New American Writing, Golden Handcuffs Review, New Orleans Review, HOW2, MiPoesias, Big Bridge, Moria, Fairy Tale Review, Exquisite Corpse, The Offending Adam, Galatea Resurrects, and Eoagh, among others.  Her manuscript, an earth of sweetness dances in the vein, was a finalist in Ahsahta Press’ 2006 Sawtooth Poetry Contest.  She has guest edited an issue of Ekleksographia and served as assistant editor for Dusie Kollektiv.

Praise for Gaze:






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