Marie Ponsot

Winner of the 2005 Frost Medal

Wearing the Gaze of an Archaic Statue

The juggler in her suit of nerve
is eyes and hands. The rest of her
dangles soft-shoe below her shoulders,
relaxed, co-operating. She knows
that to toss things out is something
but not much, not important; is
for the sake of when, picturing
a ribboning like water spurting,
she is holding nothing.
She is on her own here;
she is not just letting go,
and her small touching skill is:
holding nothing.

Holding on, she is not a juggler.
She is you and me, hands full of things
she must practice juggling to get out from under.
She sets her feet and begins.
She smiles like Pomona, offering
three, a dozen, lifeless, bits & pieces she
can't get rid of; she presents them as
shapeliness and they lose weight.
The rhythm clarifies something, maybe her.
She settles back, a laughing fountain
pumping particles.
The order of motion emerges.
Up they loft one by one, she is tossing,
up, spheres, sticks, boxes, soft, metallic,
out with them she goes till her hands
close on nothing, are just
touched for the electric
seconds of netting the elements
with energy in air.
They drop, sprout, up, out, drop, up, & slowly
each touch makes her invisible save as
a phase of the great legislation
she proposes to obey.
 
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Poem by Marie Ponsot. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with the permission of the author.
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Board of Governors on Marie Ponsot

For more than fifty years, Marie Ponsot has been writing limpid, elegant poems of integrity and depth. Her poems speak to the commanding values, the hard truths, the never-forgotten pleasures, and the saving love of creation, which she enshrines in them. One poem begins, "Death is the price of life." In another, "the othering bliss of child" is continuously there, she declares, "teaching me/ relentlessly/ to reach joy by choosing/ to love. I so choose, I think."

The Poetry Society of America honors itself in awarding the 2004 Frost Medal to Marie Ponsot—a brilliant and inspiring teacher, a famously devoted and proud mother of seven, a modest yet supreme poet. As David Orr wrote in The New York Times Book Review, "Accomplishments like this, carried over eight decades...are what American art is all about."

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