“In the Interstices”

A Poem by Ruth Stone

September 28, 2020  By Ruth Stone

Pleasure me not, for love’s pleasure drained me
Deep as an artesian well;
The pitiless blood-letter veined me.
Long grew the parasite before its fill.
Lover, smile the other way, nor ply me with evil
Who am surfeited and taste the shadows of gray;
Nor sway me with promises to rouse my thirst
And fill me with that passion beyond lust;
Not romp my body in the wake of the mind’s play.

How tired, how enervated, how becalmed I am.
That island toward which I strove in my salt tides
Has drifted out beyond the listless swell and formed
A hostile continent. I am amorphous with all deflowered brides,
Who, with their floodgates sundered, drowned when they were stormed.


The Essential Ruth Stone

From The Essential Ruth Stone by Ruth Stone, ed. Bianca Stone. Used with the permission of Copper Canyon Press.

Ruth Stone
Ruth Stone
Ruth Stone (1915–2011) was born in Virginia. She is the author of thirteen books of poetry and her collected poems, What Love Comes To, was a finalist for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize. She is the recipient of many honors, including two Guggenheim Fellowships (one of which roofed her house). In 1959, after her husband committed suicide, she was forced to raise three daughters alone. (As she has pointed out, her poems are “love poems, all written to a dead man” who forced her to “reside in limbo” with her daughters.) For twenty years she traveled the US, teaching creative writing at many universities, including the University of Illinois, University of Wisconsin, Indiana University, UC Davis, Brandeis, and finally settling at SUNY Binghamton. She lived in Vermont until her death at the age of 96.

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