Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Rune of the Finland Woman


                                   For Sára Karig

"You are so wise," the reindeer said, "you can bind the winds of the world in a single strand."
                                     H. C. Andersen, "The Snow Queen"

She could bind the world's winds in a single strand.
She could find the world's words in a singing wind.
She could lend a weird will to a mottled hand.
She could wind a willed word from a muddled mind.

She could wend the wild woods on a saddled hind.
She could sound a wellspring with a rowan wand.
She could bind the wolf's wounds in a swaddling band.
She could bind a banned book in a silken skin.

She could spend a world war on invaded land.
She could pound the dry roots to a kind of bread.
She could feed a road gang on invented food.
She could find the spare parts of the severed dead.

She could find the stone limbs in a waste of sand.
She could stand the pit cold with a withered lung.
She could handle bad puns in the slang she learned.
She could dandle foundlings in their mother tongue.

She could plait a child's hair with a fishbone comb.
She could tend a coal fire in the Arctic wind.
She could mend an engine with a sewing pin.
She could warm the dark feet of a dying man.

She could drink the stone soup from a doubtful well.
She could breathe the green stink of a trench latrine.
She could drink a queen's share of important wine.
She could think a few things she would never tell.

She could learn the hand code of the deaf and blind.
She could earn the iron keys of the frozen queen.
She could wander uphill with a drunken friend.
She could bind the world's winds in a single strand.

 

Credit


From Selected Poems 1965-1990 (W. W. Norton & Company, 1994) by Marilyn Hacker. Copyright @1994 by Marilyn Hacker. Used with permission of the author.

Author


Marilyn Hacker

Marilyn Hacker is the author of fourteen books of poems, most recently Blazons (Carcanet, 2019). Her translations of French and Francophone poets include Marilyn Hacker is the author of fourteen books of poems, most recently Blazons (Carcanet, 2019). Her translations of French and Francophone poets include Samira Negrouche’s The Olive Trees’ Jazz (Pleiades Press, 2020). She lives in Paris, France. She lives in Paris, France.

Date Published: 1994-01-01

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/rune-finland-woman