When I think of Edna St. Vincent Millay, I picture her in wide pants, standing on a giant rock, looking as far as she can see into the Atlantic horizon, her hair blown back by a constant wind. Or, I imagine her at work, at a desk piled high with books, because she worked a lot. I like the rhythm in her name and admire the strength in her delicate phrases. Admittedly, I only recently learned of Edna St. Vincent Millay. I’m not sure how I missed her but our acquaintance happened in the way you learn a new word or concept, and then hear it again and again. She popped up in musings of girl bachelorhood, on a greeting card, and in between ads and articles. And when I finally picked up a few volumes of her work, I thought, really, I’ve always known her. The following “poem” is a quick collected rearrangement of some of my favorite verses and phrases and ways Millay has put words and images and ideas together.
My candle burns a lovely light
The How and Why of all things, past
And never shall one room contain me quite
I saw and heard, and knew at last
Was it for this I uttered prayers
And sobbed and cursed and kicked the stairs?
We shall not feel it again
and be buried in the rain
Not for you was the pen bitten
And the mind wrung, and the song written
From the stone, as from the memory the heat of tears escapes
The lighthouse, and the boat on the beach, and the two shapes
More sea than land am I; my sulky mind
And present, and forevermore
And she never will be all mine
The Universe, cleft to the core
Melissa Remark hails from a small Canadian town on north shore of Lake Erie. She has called Toronto, Los Angeles, and Gold Coast, Australia, home before settling in New Orleans where she teaches writing, literature, and film studies at Nicholls State University. A former editor at UNO’s Bayou Magazine, Melissa recently wrote and co-produced the short film Call Me Cappy, which premiered at the 25th Annual New Orleans Film Festival and has screened at film fests around the globe.