POETRY

From the Third Storm Riddle: Hurricane

By

after the Exeter Book, fol 101-102, lines 17-35

   Sometimes, working    at the world's surface,
I must roil waves,    must wrangle currents
to force the flood-waters'    flint-gray spate
back at the beaches.     Spray-flecked breakers
whack the walls    of cliffs. The water
dimly beneath them     heaves. The deep
is a mountain, looming.     Lurking in its wake,
mud-churned, murky,     another one moves
so that soon these breach     the high-ground barriers
ashore. Now ships    groan, their hulls shattered-
creaking of keels    and cries of seamen
mix with the idiot     moaning of the wind.
Above, standing     staunchly, the steep
stone walls wait,     wait for the water,
for high, hard waves     in hammering swells
to crush them. What chance     for pleasure craft,
their hands, their guests,     in that ghastly time,
if the sea scoop them     and scour and smash
their rudders away?    Bereft, wretched,
they buck on the back     of the storm-wind beast.
   Of the many miseries     I make known to men
this is one merely,     a master I must serve,
stern in my purpose.     Who can still him?

Maryann Corbett lives in St. Paul and works for the Minnesota Legislature. Her poems, essays, and translations have appeared widely online and in print in many journals and assorted anthologies and have won the Lyric Memorial Award, the Willis Barnstone Translation Prize, and the Richard Wilbur Award. New work appears inBarrow StreetandSouthwest Reviewand is forthcoming inThe Raintown Review, Measure, Mezzo Cammin, andAngle. Her books areBreath Control(David Robert Books),Credo for the Checkout Line in Winter(Able Muse), andMid Evil, forthcoming from The Evansville Press.

   Sometimes, working    at the world's surface,
I must roil waves,    must wrangle currents
to force the flood-waters'    flint-gray spate
back at the beaches.     Spray-flecked breakers
whack the walls    of cliffs. The water
dimly beneath them     heaves. The deep
is a mountain, looming.     Lurking in its wake,