A Not Admitting of the Wound
There are no curses
only mirrors upon a shifting plate,
like a revolving door--
the eye of a little god, four-cornered,
faces and darkness separate us over and over.
In every place we look we see our stare,
even that much-consulted mirror on the wall
couldn’t tell all, though it couldn’t help telling the truth.
A miniature window,
that anyone who stands in front of it feels
the bruising darkness.
Close to the door in my dream, the small signs,
portraits on everything imaginable,
then hold them up like mirrors.
They are illusions, reflected dreams,
but move in a common rhythm
that fades like tide drying on a beach.
I am terrified of this dark thing that sleeps in me--
a not admitting of the wound until it grew
so wide, I think it is part of my heart.
But it flickers, perceives without a mirror in the hands.
Into that rushing beast of the night,
the curl of my lips, bright as the blood red edge
of the moon, stared back at me a half-familiar face.
There are so many roots to the tree of anger,
so murderous in its strangle of branches
that sometimes the branches shatter
before they bear--
these are the isolate, slow faults that kill.
The view of vast water stretching before me,
on a shore that is wide for the tide is out,
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees,
and the weedy rocks are bare to the rain,
my right hand was holding my left hand
which was holding the tree which was filled with stars
and the soft rain--
the soul’s hunger is small, but precise.
Fringe of a mirror with wisdom on it,
held up to the souls of gods and mortals,
that all my Life had entered it,
the rain spoke to me
A wound is the place where light enters you,
and when the blessed dawn again--
beautiful and faithful and ancient, like a rainbow
bearing up such speechless bounty,
joy will reveal itself.
“A NOT ADMITTING OF THE WOUND” is a cento poem consisting of lines taken verbatim from 26 poems written by 19 female poets.
SOURCES: Alphabetical by Poet
“Phenomenal Woman,” “On the Pulse of Morning,” “Caged Bird,” by Maya Angelou; “Last Days,” by Anne Bronte; “Poem in Praise of Menstruation,” by Lucille Clifton; “A Not Admitting of the Wound (1188),” “Fame is a Fickly Food (1702),” by Emily Dickinson; “Trio in a Mirror,” by Dorothy Donnelly; “I Have Been a Stranger in a Strange Land,” “Demeter’s Prayer to Hades,” by Rita Dove; “Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear,” by Alice B. Fogel; “Stellar Jay,” “Hatchling,” “Upstairs in the Study,” by Heidi Garnett; “Father’s Mirror,” by Miriam Goodman; “Mirrors,” by Elizabeth Jennings; Selections from “The Sun and Her Flowers,” Rupi Kaur; “Who Said It Was Simple,” by Audre Lorde; “Dream,” by Eileen Myles; “Last Night the Rain Spoke to Me,” by Mary Oliver; “To Be of Use,” by Marge Piercy; “Elm,” “Mirror,” by Sylvia Plath; “The Starry Night,” by Anne Sexton; “Departure,” by Edna St. Vincent Millay; “The Tree of Life Has Fallen,” by Alice Walker.
Part / Line # POET POEMS
I 1 Dove, Rita Demeter’s Prayer to Hades
2 Dove, Rita Demeter’s Prayer to Hades
Dickinson, Emily Fame is a Fickly Food (1702)
3 Kaur, Rupi The Sun and Her Flowers
4-5 Plath, Sylvia Mirror
6 Jennings, Elizabeth Mirrors
7-8 Donnelly, Dorothy Trio In a Mirror
9-10 Goodman, Mirian Father’s Mirror
11 Angelou, Maya On the Pulse of Morning
II 12 Myles, Eileen Dream
13-14 Fogel, Alice B. Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear
15 Garnett, Heidi Stellar Jay
16 Piercy, Marge To Be of Use
17 Goodman, Miriam Father’s Mirror
18 Plath, Sylvia Elm
19 Dickinson, Emily A Not Admitting of the Wound (1188)
20 Dickinson, Emily A Not Admitting of the Wound (1188)
20 Plath, Sylvia Mirror
21 Plath, Sylvia Mirror
21 Jennings, Elizabeth Mirrors
22 Sexton, Anne The Starry Night
23 Angelou, Maya Phenomenal Woman
23 Clifton, Lucille Poem in Praise of Menstruation
24 Clifton, Lucille Poem in Praise of Menstruation
24 Jennings, Elizabeth Mirrors
25 Lorde, Audre Who Said It Was Simple
26 Plath, Sylvia Elm
27-28 Lorde, Audre Who Said It Was Simple
29 Plath, Sylvia Elm
III 30 Walker, Alice The Tree of Life Has Fallen
31 St. Vincent Millay, Edna Departure
32 Angelou, Maya Caged Bird
33 St. Vincent Millay, Edna Departure
34-36 Oliver, Mary Last Night the Rain Spoke to Me
37 Garnett, Heidi Hatchling
38 Myles, Eileen Dream
39 Dove, Rita Demeter’s Prayer to Hades
40 Dickinson, Emily A Not Admitting of the Wound (1188)
41-42 Oliver, Mary Last Night the Rain Spoke to Me
43 Garnett, Heidi Upstairs in the Study
44 Bronte, Anne Last Days
45 Clifton, Lucille Poem in Praise of Menstruation
Kaur, Rupi The Sun and Her Flowers
46 Dove, Rita I Have Been a Stranger in a Strange Land
47 Kaur, Rupi The Sun and Her Flowers
Shirley Harshenin writes from her home in the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia. She believes in angels, caffeine, and the human spirit’s extraordinary resilience. Her work has been published in Room Magazine; Contrary Magazine; Unlost Journal; Crab Fat Magazine; Haiku Journal; The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts; Entropy: Woven; Nailed; Crack the Spine; The Nasiona, and others.