Antonia’s Song

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by Evelyn Hooven (June 2016)

(This is from my verse play Celestial Lullaby. The spirit of Antonia seeks to comfort her mourning mother. The mood is ghostly, dream-like.)

 

Oh, Mother, do not bury with me

Confirmation veil or wedding dress.

I’ll need neither olive nor figs

Nor bread nor mineral water,

Neither gifts that nourish

Nor tokens of honor—

This is a journey:

One who was motionless and prone

Becomes an explorer—

Timid at first, then eager,

Lost halfway through

The astounding expedition

Then finding her way.

There you sit—

Blankets and earthenware,

Shirred muslin,

This wood, forced to brightness

By repetition of gesture,

Sheen of, film of—

Is it shroud or veil?

 

Death’s not a jilting, Mother,

Though I won’t be marrying a man

Right as rain

Reliable as stone—

Death is a journey through waters,

Without a compass

Like a sailor’s

Or an astronomer’s glass,

Death is a journey alone.

Build if you will

A careful tomb

The only home maintained with roses

And chrysanthemums—

But I must cross these borders,

Home tools are no use.

 

Build if you will

A careful tomb

The only home

Maintained with roses

To mitigate the taste

Of a near-consuming dust. . .

But whether you embalm or scatter

Is all the same to me.  .  .  .

 

The one dream of the dead

The end of all dreaming

Is to awaken new

And full of blessing

Entirely elsewhere.

 

____________________________

 

Evelyn Hooven graduated from Mount Holyoke College and received her M.A. from Yale University, where she also studied at The Yale School of Drama.  A member of the Dramatists’ Guild, she has had presentations of her verse dramas at several theatrical venues, including The Maxwell Anderson Playwrights Series in Greenwich, CT (after a state-wide competition) and The Poet’s Theatre in Cambridge, MA (result of a national competition). Her poems and translations from the French have appeared in ART TIMES, Chelsea, The Literary Review, THE SHOp: A Magazine of Poetry (in Ireland), The Tribeca Poetry Review, Vallum (in Montreal), and other journals, and her literary criticism in Oxford University’s Essays in Criticism.

 

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