There is labor in all of it.
Grainy minutes, pinpricks of sun,
wayward bugs and words
passing slowly. I hunch for breath.
Can I not do something? Escape?
Brush away aphids, walk faster
before the dusk of memories
overtakes me? Such mortal weariness
in waiting, such exhaustion.
And no place to stop.
There are shades and light,
and wind outdoors, but no relief.
If wind could clothe, my wraps
would always be clean. But this
is rude country, edged like frost
on leaves. Edged, dark and charred—
the devil licks its blade. Surrender
is a sea of rude, surly foam
where crude words crash
like hurled bricks. We were girls
without girlhood, where wonder
calcified into uncertainty, born
from a mother so surrendered
her very shadow disappeared.
Phoebe Marrall, orphaned at the age of nine, was a survivor of The Depression and of a gruelling childhood. When she died in 2017 at the age of eighty-four, her daughters Jane Hendrickson and Camille Komine inherited hundreds of poems she had written. They remained unpublished during her lifetime, but it is the intention of her daughters that a collection be compiled for readers to appreciate. Relief, Have You a Name? is currently a work in progress, being edited by Gayle Jansen Beede.