The Abalone Heart
Barbara Meyn’s The Abalone Heart is a collection that adheres to a premise Henry David Thoreau held: poems arise from the very ground the poet stands on. And indeed, Meyn’s works stem directly from what’s at hand in the locale of her northern California home. “The importance of the place where she walks is not in her footprints, which are very much like anyone else’s,” writes D.L. Emblen in the book’s introduction; “it is in the genuineness of the work that comes out of the place, a genuineness which grows out of the care with which this poet takes in this place.” Meyn’s eye detects the small brilliances of the living world around her, mending the often-ignored glimmers into a form of her own in which discovered connections make the real things significant.
The full text of Barbara Meyn’s The Abalone Heart is stored at Albertson Library at Boise State University, and can be downloaded here. You may also purchase a copy of the book.
Dirge for Submersible Pump
The pump went out today.
Over the spot where it is buried
I listen for its rhythm.
I took the steady throb for granted.
Strange to open the tap and hear
a ghostly sigh, the last breath
of an entity that made life possible,
voice of a rusty artery
through which vital fluid flowed
to the circulatory system of my house.
How long such water lies beneath the ground
is anyone’s guess—long enough
to absorb iron and calcium from rock
and suspend it in a rich brew
that stains sinks and clogs plumbing.
Deep under the earth in an aquifer
where storms of winters past gather,
gather and flow, a hidden river
accessible only through a strenuous effort,
an act of faith, like some difficult love
we cannot see but must believe is there
because instinct forks us to it.
For that water we spend all we have
even though we know that it can leave
a taste of earth and iron in our mouths.
Copyright © 1988 by Barbara Meyn
Growing up in Ukiah and Eureka, on the north coast, Barbara Meyn attended Humboldt State College and University of California at Berkeley, where she received her B.A. in English and studied poetry composition with the late Josephine Miles. At various times newspaperwoman, teacher, and free-lance writer, Barbara now lives on Humbug Creek in northeastern Sonoma County with her husband. They have two sons and three grandchildren.