Thursday, December 17, 2009

For Margaret Fuller


A windy dream reminded me

to remember your name. Drowned

with husband and child off Long Island,

your carcass devoured by cod

and haddock, you left one book,

Women of the Nineteenth Century

a sample of your genius to goad

our late and belated era.


I forgot your name because age

misfiled a dozen Margarets—

colleagues, athletes, cocktail party

handshakes. No lovers, I’m sure,

but an engraving of your profile

reminds me of Alexandria,

whose murder amid her children

just recently stopped resonating

in a milieu that no longer cares.


With his wide-eyed naturalist’s gaze

Thoreau searched for your remains

and found half of Ireland littered

on the beach. The dead reminded him

that everything is better alive,

a lesson he’d apply to white pines,

mast-high and upright in Maine,

by attributing souls to them.


I forgot your name so arose

to look it up. What did you write

that wouldn’t infuriate Hawthorne,

who resented “scribbling women”

and rendered you as Zenobia,

a muscular Blithedale irritant?

Sophia, your friend, would avenge

his sexism by scribbling over

his journals after his death.                           


Margaret Fuller, you married

Marquis Ossoli, bore his child,

and drowned as deeply as Emerson’s

Nature recommended. Next June,

if I survive this brittle cold,

maybe I’ll find a bone on a beach

and name it after you and other

intellects now hung in the sky

a mile or two out of reach.