On the first night after you die, we make love.
Your tongue, a sparrow in my mouth.
On the second night, you dye
the white egg of a parrot in beet juice,
scratch snowflakes into the waxy shell.
On the third night, I boil a crow’s blue egg
in vinegar; before it cools, I swallow it whole.
On the fourth night in Owl’s Head,
we lie on the shore; the tide ambles in,
wrapping us in seaweed.
We swim away
together in our green green skin.
Reprinted by permission of the poet. Appeared in the anthology After Shocks: The Poetry of
Recovery for Life-Shattering Events.
Interview with Carol Dine
How did you come to write “Owl’s Head”?
The poem came to me quite awhile after my lover, Jon Liutkus, died of a heart attack at age forty.
How did writing this poem affect your recovery?
Can you tell us something about your process of writing that helped this poem come to life?
The setting of the poem, Owls Head, Maine, is a place Jon often visited; it reminded him of Lithuania, the land from which he and his family were exiled; he often wrote me postcards from there, describing its haunting beauty. As for the second and third stanzas, he had told me about the Lithuanian custom of dying Easter eggs. So I put us by the sea, making love, added the sensual waxing ingredients, and my poem was cooked.
Who are your favorite poets or poets new to you whom you'd recommend to others?
I’m inspired by and recommend the work of David Ferry, Carol Ann Duffy, John F. Deane, and Genine Lentine.
What are you working on now?
My book, Orange Night, collaboration with acclaimed artist and Holocaust survivor, Samuel Bak, will be published in April, 2014 by Pucker Art Publications and distributed by Syracuse University Press. I’m completing a manuscript entitled Sutures: Poems on Art and War. In it, I comment on specific war images, including those by Holocaust survivor, Samuel Bak, Polish exile, Andrzej Jackowski, and British war sculptor, Michael Sandle; in these cases, my poems accompany the images. There are also sections (without images) on women as both victims and survivors of war; and art that was looted by the Nazis, never to be recovered. The manuscript is under review by publishers in the U.K. I am now working on poems for a collection entitled Resistance, persona poems on women who have resisted war, terror and abuse.
Carol Dine read from her book Van Gogh in Poems (Bitter Oleander Press, 2009) in Amsterdam at the Van Gogh Museum, and in London at the Royal Academy. In 2011, she was awarded a grant from the Money for Women/Barbara Deming Memorial fund for her manuscript Sutures: Poems on Art and War. She teaches writing at MassArt & Design, Boston, where she will give the Marjorie Hellerstein Memorial Lecture in April, 2012.