Mary of Egypt Has a Dream Unloose it, she hears, or doesn’t hear but has the meaning, full and instant, there on her bed of rock and sand where she lies quiet, forswearing love, forswearing love. Under the sun and moon she prays for the death of need—to not desire so desperately love’s counterfeit— to live in acquiescent calm and tepid peace. Decades have reeled and run within her prayer for conversion—fire to burn away the last of longing. Yet that clear night (all nights are clear in the thorny barrens), as she floats weary on the edge of wakefulness, the constellations grind to a stop their slow arcs and words like clear water lap at her: Dearest, unloose it. Uncage love and send love out, set love free, let love astound those it falls upon, let it knock them over— but not your puny, needful love: use mine, use mine. We two will do it: you the flume and I the freshet, you the dry bed and I the flood through you. Say yes. Tomorrow, all your life’s love will seem a dry prologue.
Jane Greer founded Plains Poetry Journal, an advance guard of the New Formalism movement, in 1981, and edited it until 1993. She has two collections of poetry, Bathsheba on the Third Day (The Cummington Press, 1986), and Love like a Conflagration (Lambing Press, 2020) and lives in North Dakota.