Sheila-Na-Gig online


Linda Parsons

Poet, playwright, essayist, and editor, Linda Parsons is the poetry editor for Madville Publishing and copy editor for Chapter 16, the literary website of Humanities Tennessee. Widely published, her fifth poetry collection is Candescent (Iris Press, 2019). Four of her plays have been produced by Flying Anvil Theatre in Knoxville, Tennessee.


Be ahead of all parting, as though it already were / behind you, like the winter that has
just gone by. / For among these winters there is one so endlessly winter / that only by
wintering through it all will your heart survive.
— Rainer Maria Rilke, “The Sonnets to Orpheus II, 13”

This place I am going to opens before me—
pages of a book whose title escapes memory,
everything the whitest white, but not cold
or wintry. At the entrance, my first sheltie,
Laddie, sphinxlike, waits for me. A numinous
dream, my friend says, prophetic, the union
of substance and spirit, caverns of pure light.

I sense all who have passed on. In one room,
my father trims the Douglas fir in silver,
a whisper from the cathedral ceiling, only
the tallest and biggest will do. My stepmother,
surrounded by all of her rescues, two-legged
and furred, and I am there—at seven, at eleven,
and now nearing seventy I need more than ever
to be lifted by the scruff of the neck. My mother,
in suede heels and dinner rings, flirts with
demons and angels alike. And Grandmama
lights the gas at sunup, rocks the glider
to and fro, to and fro, well into dusk.

This place is prepared for me, I know
in my murky unknowing, dreams of alcoves
and anterooms in truth our own minds,
our bodies’ veined vessels awaiting
breakage in such chambers, transfigured
as wine to blood. I may have dreams
yet unlived, but by and by, please open
window or door as I pass beyond winters
I’ve counted hard and unbearable
into the many mansions, one upon
the other taking my breath away,
each a chapter I was saving for last.
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