“berries so clear a man may see through them” after Gerard’s Herball, 1597 Parasitic black globes hung against dusk float, beheaded and strung-up skulls in arms of the skeletal oak they eat tonight, along with the last solstice light, a desperate silver. Had my shotgun now, I’d shoot some down for you, said a man repairing my roof, shingles blown, rain driven in, something’s proof. To the Celts, the ancient Greeks, those white berries were divine semen, potent fruit, Saturnalian sperm, what you will. That they also mollifieth ulcers? Inspire an arbored tryst, a kiss? I’d tie red ribbon to & hang it. For this.
Lisa Russ Spaar is the author of over ten books, most recently Orexia: Poems (2017) and the forthcoming Madrigalia: New & Selected Poems (2021). Her honors include a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize, and an NEH Distinguished Professorship. Her “Second Acts” column on second books of poetry is a regular feature at the Los Angeles Review of Books. She is professor and director of creative writing at the University of Virginia.