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She Stands

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She stands at the top of the stair
as childless Tom
                         saw her weep.

Fatherless in red Spyders elsewhere
rich daughters whiz through Paris
or cruise the Greek Islands as non-
daddy leaps in grasshopper fashion
on a merry-go-round. Tall and bony
they’re properly married, endowed.

Spared such a fate, the richly poor
country girl sometimes resented
her tattered state. Having to seek
treasures in a briar patch, she
found daffodils and violets
in dewy meadows mid-March.

Now late in the years, the wind lays
burnished gold leaves
                                    on her feet.*



                    *“Cultivated” they called it
                    in the fifties—my poetry
                    sensing the trans-
                         position of
                    Marianne & Estlin
                    from the throoat to the tongue
                    makes a whole world
                         of difference
                    if you say
                    at his or on her feet.

Notes:
In “She Stand's” The figure of “childless Tom” is Eliot, whom Mary went to visit after WWII. The “red Spyders” are expensive cars of the period. “Marianne” (Moore) and “Estlin” (Cummings) were major influences on Mary as she began writing poetry in English in the fifties.—Richard Sieburth
Source: Poetry (January 2010)

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This poem originally appeared in the January 2010 issue of Poetry magazine

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She Stands

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