Leanne Ponder (1937-2021)


I could have asked for more:
to lie between her thighs, white birch in spring;
sing—a thrush—between them, my body’s dreams
when young, and even then ugly as a roach
scuttling between the jeers of children.

“Humpback!” They’d dance the curse around me,
poke my shoulder’s stone with such pretty
little fingers. Pretty, as she is:  she
whose maiden blood I gave the king. I gave it,
yes; for she had vowed me anything
to spin the straw to gold.

I should have had her then,
wrapped her like a bib beneath my chin,
wound her like gold thread around my spindle.
But no, I spun for trinkets:  a silver chain, a ring.
She didn’t even thank me.

How small the homely dream, being used to nothing.
She bargained for her life, a kingdom; I merely
for one child from a womb fecund as spring.
What we know we learn again. I swear I’ll dream no more.
Love trails beauty like a one-man dog
and snarls the rest, like beggars, from its door.