marshland moon – poems – Eleanor Gray

marshland moon
poems by eleanor gray
(Dink Press 2016)


“(it is nothing, is nothing
…and so, where fables began)” – from [Lady’s Slipper]

I have never known how to end things. Not with person, not with place. Eleanor Gray is a poet who plucks fruit from the idea of an outside world that she might be fed by imagery alone in the aftermath of not beginning.

The outside, in this work, gives silence a safe word and it’s a word the reader can say over and over as if pretending to be a missing child.

“how do I
…love the very gnat of self” – from [Plox]

“a nameless sensation which perpetually haunts the body” – from [and then, Monsters]

The inside, in this work, separates blank from space that Gray might transcribe intuition in the wilderness of the self-imposed.

“holy, holy the black asterisk of wound
for the child I never was” – from [Languid Limbo]

“ ‘murmur’ I had forgotten the word
ash without meaning, death without purpose”
-I am
a song, an urn, a stairwell” – from [Susurrus]

I have never known how to end things. I heard on NPR this morning a story about a person who specializes in moving without harm the spacecraft that are still on earth and last night I was rereading Gray, trying to be careful on her paths of remnant and root. This seems like a good place.

“and so, what then of
colossal sleep, “ – from [Zero Beauty]

Last thing. This book, its title, to me, is very alone. The content? Intimacy.

That most distant of permissions.


review by Barton Smock


book is here:

person Eleanor Gray, four poems

Eleanor Gray is the author of marshland moon (Dink Press, 2016}



I find the sea a thing familiar, the dark heart of crowded trees,

the rough half-sleep of wing-beats, a soft flutter of fox sleep


early, I come and set the bowl of blood on stone for the raven


I come to the field of the soul, where all is perennial, and distant


the moon comes, a lover, that rises from the edge of a strange sorrow


unthinkable, this

                                                to go into the dark and remember


I find treason in the hidden hinge, where the gods sit and never listen


the yellow borrowing of flight, pitched toward some ever-place


the untongue of the absent nape



the day has released the hounds, the antlered women woven and embellished,

the dauntless shaking wings of a dragon

                                                                              that does not know how to cherish


upheaved night-birds that leave and extinguish in the garnet wood


leafclutter & wood-rot, sweet, it is a soft thing


all eats of me                                 dewcold spring, the sea, immensity


I come, begotten of the white oak tree, the woods held in sweet smell which recede

to the resolve of lilies


I come because hunger traces the bog, the salt-row harvest, the redmouthed mare of

I come knowing the grave, the earth which deceives, yellow and its immediacy


I’m letting go, the night, exhausted, the heart of trees, coveted


the lamps go out about the valley, carrying the weight of nameless stars


for you, only this was ever known



in the good years, the language of faith, autumn, blood

seeping near the surface of all things


the soul of a mountain night, meadowed birds, the voice

against winnowed woods and mist a silvered-blue hood,

an anchored moment


all matters of sacrifice and ritual had befallen, there were gates

that opened to nowhere, a sea breathless with the names

of the forgotten


with the heart enduring such madness, surely it had to change,

the taste of an animal on the tongue, charred pond light


a burdened heart in the field of the wolf, the frenzy of surrender,

a world dismantled with the beloved gone, a road white with

luminous moon and hushed confessions


already, it was too late,

the red rim of daybreak


what was feared was the wilderness, abandonments

beyond description, a wasted life


not a stranger, but a pause, neither known nor forgotten

a black lake between them, strange world, kingdom

of oblivion


a privilege, what is both kept and lost



among the leaves of evening, deciduous light, red orion,

the hushed confession of twilight, crows in a woodland


I come from the river


all is beckoning the dismantled world, it is a soft thing,

which calls and listens, but never comes


concoct of wistfulness and laminous cold, garnet-winged birds

pitched towards some ever-woods, a tender place


the long marriage of the otherworlds is over, there is no oaktime gate

for departure, or the blue-depth water holding the secret of

the Other’s name


we are reduced to our own tongue, few colors, and all

that is unremembered

the sea, nothing else: unconquerable solitude


votive flower, lilies amongst timelessness, blue-lipped lake, hills of

hemlock and heather, the rush of hungered hounds across the endless

breast of distance


this is no longer your country, I tell myself, like a creature in love

now, it is only earth that exists here, stained with the red tint

of mothwings, unutterable mouth, mute grasses,

a tongue speaking impermanence


animal skin swaddled and brindled with the plain weave of river

loss, the price of being, wingless creatures, nightflesh sublime


what is it that remains closed, distant, foreign? where do our lives

empty themselves? is there a plain that holds all

the unbearable?


I grow hunched and quiet, I lessen, I lessen, I do not carry it,

I carry nothing,


uncertainty skims its waters, at times, I drown, I do not remember

nor does the dawn come and have arms with which to hold me



ever othersea, soul of a mountain-night, it is a predatory

darkness, wincing with stars


worlds outside of me, always alive, seamless with livid,

seeping pale creatures and old gods


I am unwieldy with prayer, the wistfulness of an empty field,

here is a want         I cannot             let go


we will not die, I think, though Electra still mourns, and Medea

has submerged

                                herself in blood


can I claim to be any different?


to this, I have acted accordingly: fearful, fleeting, changed


unthinkable, this, to be pitched towards to some ever-place

where she is not


Oh, immateriality of distance, can one sentinel a spent, and gone love?


I come to this unutterable loneliness, murmuring mossed ruins, valleys

adrift in dark distance, all that is not known to me


the smell of wood-rot, sweet

outside of me

an oracle has gathered,


hunger has taken the shape of a coyote, crossing the white field

and steep hilled hemlock, all that is unremembered


votive flower, it is a soft thing, to give up


so I run to the conjurer, the witch, the worn hooves of a satyr

roaming deathless


I am the possessed amidst the hydrangeas, the dismantled world,

uncovered from ancient harvests and the whirl

                                                                                                of mothwings


where do our lives                                                                empty themselves?


unbearable fields, eclipsed by trees and blue-depth waters,

timeless with the throes of black lilies and up-heaved birds

that flit and extinguish in the garnet wood



the day release

the hungered hounds



the moth

return me