Mary Jane White – Lentils



The mountain
& then foothills & flocks
Listen thoughtlessly
As a flock


A winking moon moving between clouds
The joined moistures of rain & dew


The sun round
The courtyard round
No more discs of lentils
No more humming
There it goes then
As the grasshopper
A mind empty


The whole of its contents
The whole wad
Flesh & rind
Each wisp
Until you’re
An apparition


You’re naked in the air
With all the others


& the time comes when
The wings dry open
In the public square
The court square
A gold seal rimmed
The few gathered officials


& the long shadows of legs walking
As each departs alone


Author’s Statement on Beauty

Some beauty — older beauty – is brief, or strict, or bare, or spare.  This poem aims to be an example of that sort.  For me, the word “lentils” enters and belongs to poetry through Jack Gilbert, “More Than Sixty.”


Mary Jane White is a poet and translator, from Amen Lake, Deer River, Minnesota, MFA University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, received NEA Fellowships in 1979 and 1985 in both poetry and translation, twice awarded writing scholarships to Bread Loaf (1979, 2016) and to Squaw Valley Community of Writers (2006). Her Book Starry Sky to Starry Sky (1988) is available from Holy Cow! Press, and contains translations of Marina Tsvetaeva which first appeared as a long feature in The American Poetry Review. Recent Tsvetaeva translations include: New Year’s, an elegy for Rilke, a chapbook from Adastra Press (Massachusetts); “Poem of the Hill” in the Summer 2007 issue of The New England Review; “Poem of the End” in the Winter 2008 issue of The Hudson Review, reprinted in two anthologies, From a Terrace in Prague, (Prague 2011) and Poets Translate Poets, (Syracuse 2013). More at: