Poetry Friday: Another Leda

h1 July 11th, 2008 by eisha

black swanOnce again, The Poets Upstairs have come through for me in my time of need. I was just thinking how I felt like I was in a Poetry Friday rut, just lazily digging up old favorites instead of seeking out new stuff. And *poof* – without me even saying anything, Dana lent me a book of poetry by one of her professors, Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon. The book, Black Swan, opens with an amazing piece, “Leda,” that simply begged to be shared with you all. From that headspin of a first line to the sharp irony of the last, it charges the old myth with a fierce energy. The taut, vivid imagery puts you there in that swampy Florida heat. You know this girl. And you could just about cry for her.

By the way, I can’t help but notice that I was also reminded of Leda by Dana’s poem “Nesting,” featured back in April. Does this mean something? Do I have a Leda problem? Do I need to start watching out for swans? And while we’re on the subject… seriously, how was that supposed to even work? Is their… equipment… you know, compatible?

Sorry, that was random. And gross. Back to Poetry Friday now. Here’s the opening of “Leda:”

Imagine Leda black–
skinny legs—–peach-switch
scarred—–vaselined to gleaming
like magnolia leaves—–Imagine
a teenager—–hips asway like moss
switchin’ down a dirt road
Florida orange blossom
water behind her ears
her tight sheath-skirt
azalea pink

Please read the rest of the poem here. Even though they left out the cool line-spacing that’s used in the book. And there are a couple of typos, which saddens me more than I can express. It’s still awesome.

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Lisa Schellman is keeping a vigilant eye on this week’s Poetry Friday roundup. Thanks, Lisa.

6 comments to “Poetry Friday: Another Leda”

  1. I think with mythology it’s best not to dwell on the details (re: Zeus and Leda, or Athena’s birth from Zeus’ forehead)!

    Great poem! You worry about the obvious stuff and it’s the beauty that zaps you!

  2. I’m so jealous of you having Poets Upstairs!
    What a poem. It just about sweeps you up and shakes you good.

    Do you have a long neck?

  3. Lyrae’s poetry is like that; it’s stomach-rending, heart-breaking stuff. Gorgeous and incredibly well crafted, but sometimes it is just so hard to read. Leda here is so unbelievably godlike in her sheer humanity. I don’t know how Lyrae does it, but girl does it every time.

  4. It’s almost impossible to do the Leda myth justice, especially after Yeats. I think Lyrae’s version of the story is an incredibly ambitious retelling, but completely successful. I also think you’re a really good reader of poetry, Eisha.

  5. Hmm, good call, Mary Lee. I’ll try not to think about it again.

    jama, at 5’1″ I don’t have a long anything.

    justin, I like that “godlike in her sheer humanity.” Excellent phrase, and excellent assessment of LVC-S’s poetry (so far – haven’t finished the book yet).

    Dana, you flatter me. And remind me that I need to reread Yeats.

  6. “And while we’re on the subject… seriously, how was that supposed to even work? Is their… equipment… you know, compatible?”


    Fifth grade humor, at your service…

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