Mary of Egypt Has a Dream – a poem by Jane Greer

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.

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