Maryann Corbett

Maryann Corbett Poems

God of Roman gardens, obscene Priapus,
is that you? now risen in green and purple
thick-stalked rigor, here in the bed prepared for

You find it when you're tearing up your life,
trying to make some sense of the old messes,
moving dressers, peering under beds.

Forgive us. We have dragged them into the night
in taffeta dresses, in stiff collars and ties,
with the wind damp, the sleet raking their cheeks,

A ritual for the year about to turn:
We drive off, ceremonious, under a dark
star-pricked and clear. A tinsel-curl of moon

A leaden matins. Up the block,
the scattered crows voice disapproval.
A tow-truck groans: someone has fallen victim

The racks at Goodwill, they're packed with wedding dresses.
Salvation Army, stacked with those sad white dresses.
Old dreams dropped at the curb. Post-breakup messes.

Left everything. Left Laos in '78.
Followed a husband following Vang Pao.
Moves briskly; brings a customer his pho;

Sometimes, working at the world's surface,
I must roil waves, must wrangle currents
to force the flood-waters' flint-gray spate

I could decide to credit the old stories—
Greek myths, saints' legends—that he's a god in mufti.
That the warm fragrance of alcohol on his breath

Bug-eyed again. I'm awake in the grip of my clenching and grinding
teeth. And once wakened, my jaws lock down on the notion of death.
Yes, they were always connected, teeth and mortality, even

Colors come as a shock.
Pink garnet, hematite, green epidote.
Agate, the jewels' blood.

Maryann Corbett Biography

Maryann Corbett (born Washington, D.C.) is an American poet. She grew up in northern Virginia. She did her undergraduate work at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, and graduated from the University of Minnesota, with a doctorate in English. Her work has appeared in River Styx, Atlanta Review, The Evansville Review, Measure, The Lyric, Candelabrum, First Things, Blue Unicorn, The Raintown Review, Christianity and Literature, The Dark Horse, The Barefoot Muse, Unsplendid, and many other journals. She has worked as a writing teacher and indexer for the Minnesota Legislature.)

The Best Poem Of Maryann Corbett


God of Roman gardens, obscene Priapus,
is that you? now risen in green and purple
thick-stalked rigor, here in the bed prepared for
old-fashioned roses?

Years ago I lusted for kitchen gardens
here, and trenched and phosphated, setting rootstocks
deep—and then I grew in a new direction,
longing for flowers.

Ave, old survivor, both vis and vir, old
force, green fuse still driving among the blossoms,
heedless of my changes of heart and hortus,
phallic as ever.

Heartless, though, to Bobbitt you off for cooking!
One alone, poor godhead, will never serve us,
hungry as we are for the primavera.
Gardening's answer:

Stand there still, O vegetable love. Grow taller.
Soar and soften out to a ferny greenness
feathered open, branched to adorn these hoped-for
armfuls of roses.

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