Richard Newman of River Styx brings his poetic touch to St. Louis Public Radio. He regularly selects a poem to appear on this site. It's a free glimpse into the vibrant poetry life in this area. Today: A.E. Stallings | Daphne.
River Styx’s 39th (because who wants to turn 40?) Anniversary Issue just hit the stands and mailboxes. It includes this poem from the point of view of Daphne, a naiad chased by Apollo. Just before she was overtaken, she called out to her father, a river god, for help, and he turned her into a laurel tree.
A. E. Stallings
Rooted in my shade so long,
I have forgotten dance, and song,
The wild escape that brought me here.
My hair is leaves, the leaves are sere
And pregnant with a bitter oil,
My grip is pitch-forked in the soil.
No one pursues. I do not run
But stand all seasons in the sun:
Autumn shook me for his rattle,
Winter wooed me. Witless prattle
Coupled in my brain all spring
And changed into a crackled thing.
A poet’s wreath, a girl’s lost beauty
Crown me dryly, like a duty;
Now that the wind begins to shift,
Careless as a match, and swift,
Let summer find me in his turn
Slow to fade, and quick to burn.
A.E. Stallings is an American poet who has lived in Athens, Greece, since 1999. Her most recent collection is Olives (Triquarterly, 2012). She is a recipient of a 2011 MacArthur Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship.