Self-Portrait as Marianne Moore at her Mother’s Funeral

Laura Kolbe Click to read more...

Kolbe studies medicine and poetry at the University of Virginia. Her poems have been heard on With Good Reason, and featured in the Fralin Museum of Art’s Writer’s Eye collection, while others have appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Devil’s Lake, and Softblow. Her criticism has appeared in Open Letters Monthly, Bookforum, The Oxonian Review, and the New Yorker.

Gettysburg, July 1947

With my good heels
and summer wools,
            I am a conic slice among trapezoids
            plunged in grass and lapidific ducktails
pushed east-northeast
by cannon blast.
            I am not in tears. Like the wild mint I lap
            against the monuments, breeding, bridling
my green thoughts, my
private riots.
            I take shape. America, made for orphans:
            now you are made for me. So: I hoist this death
as a bindle
of bleached flannel
            and hit this black road where motherless Lincoln
            stopped, his lackeys tripping in its cannon pocks.
In his silence
I see good sense.
            Cemeteries are like zoos: they teach the art
            of privacy behind their stamped gray placards.
Inviolate
as steel the at-
            -home hours of dens, of the dead. The bear sleeps
            or files its claws; it is not our business,
unbeckoned to
its lone curfew.
            This side of that exquisite habitat, we
            the visitors, and pigeons shitting freely,
uncaged. I am
in memoriam,
            I am Jackie Robinson, I am Huck Finn –
            bastarded since my mother lay down with time.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Discussion

One Response to Self-Portrait as Marianne Moore at her Mother’s Funeral

  1. Ann Persons says:

    I love this poem. I read Marianne Moore for the first time in a Modern American poetry class last semester, and I think that you’ve captured the eccentricities form and style beautifully. I also think that the poem would be powerful even without that knowledge. The poem doesn’t just mimic Moore; it is a testament to her.

Comments are closed.