Farah Marklevits is a friend of mine from Syracuse. I spent three years of graduate school in a workshop with the same five poets, who taught me as much about writing as our professors. (Ours was a special group. We actually loved each other, which never happens in MFA programs like ours.) I shared many cups of tea with Farah. Her kindness and love for knowledge always inspired me. This week, I was missing her poems and pulled out the book Three New Poets, which features three of my workshop friends. Farah’s poems about marriage always move me and prick me and force me to think about what marriage means and what it should be. Her language is sharp and irresistible, scientific and emotional.
Marriage in the Age of Light
By Farah Marklevits
We met running the flat expanse in the wide center
of Illinois, where Reagan was born. I wore shadow tattered
in the noon-glare. You wore glance, askance and screen.
We flashed and left, then burned in the brain like beacons,
Though you wish I came to you through muddied water
as greenest threads, as prismed light, the speck of dust
that throws the sky into blue, we were never beacons.
As much as I wish you came to me as water, masked
in scales, belted and crowned with algae, from a foreign
whirling planet, we are no pure element. I was born
where shoes were lasted, pottery fired, where the Mississippi
rounds bluff-bends. You were born where screws and cars
were turned, in the forest city. Two real towns: Red Wing,
Rockford. We are not myth or metaphor. Our hair too like
his or hers. Our faces: eyes, nose, gaping mouth. No Lovely Us
scrawled in crimson fire across our chests, not marked or free
from lonely. Married, we are still messy still jarring joints:
two and one, you and I, new and not-new, then one and two,
then I, then you. Standing, then sprawled on the same ground.
In shadow, in light, there in always-finding, here in we are.
“Marriage in the Age of Light,” Farah Marklevits, Three New Poets (Riverside, NY: The Sheep Meadow Press, 2006), 54