[from David Ferry’s Of No Country I Know: New and Selected Poems and Translations, 1999]
Character Analysis of Mary in Earlier Life
Her spinster eccentricity often
Said things for the sake of startling you.
She was like that. It seemed a form of shyness,
Putting you off with her charm flirtatiously.
It was a powerful entrapped wild innocent conventional nature.
The rage in her charm steadily
Burned its way through the materials of her life
So that there was always almost nothing left.
To put it another way:
Where she was was always stranded on a high platform
She got to on high heels getting across
On a tight rope strung out over the abyss.
Of No Country I Know: New and Selected Poems and Translations (Phoenix Poets Series)