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Little Boat by Jean Valentine

 

"For me, Jean Valentine's poems, like dam walls, seem to have been shaped by the enormous, unseen pressure of what lies behind them. In Little Boat the dam breaks. The silences created by Valentine's muscular jumps in syntax and splintered, glinting half-lines now have the aspect of a ruin; a ruin more impressive than what we surmise has been ruined. Little Boat is one of Jean Valentine's most beautiful and moving books in a lifetime of such books."  -- Lynn Emanuel

Order Little Boat from your local bookseller or here.

There are two poems from Little Boat below. Read and listen to poems from all of Jean's previous books here.

 

La Chalupa, the Boat

I am twenty,
drifting in la chalupa,
the blue boat painted with roses,
white lilies--No, not drifting, I am poling
my way into my life.        It seems

like another life:There were the walls of the mind,
There were the cliffs of the mind,
There were the seven deaths,
and the seven bread-offerings--

Still, there was still
the little boat, the chalupa
you built once, slowly, in the yard, after school--

 

 

The Eleventh Brother (2)

The car you were driving
flew off the bridge, it was drowning.

This was after The Wild Swans--
the story where even though you were her favorite

your sister couldn't finish weaving your shirt,
so when you turned back

to a man, one arm stayed a swan's wing.
The car you were driving

flew off the bridge, it was drowning.
This was after The Wild Swans,

your sister had finished weaving your other arm,
she dove down to give it to you

through the gray water. You couldn't
take it. You wouldn't.

 

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