Mary Rae’s poetry has been published in many journals over the years, and for several years, she was editor-in-chief of Romantics Quarterly, having taken over for poet Kevin N. Roberts. Holding a degree in Spanish Language and Literature from Boston University, Mary is also a translator whose book, St. John of the Cross: Selected Poems, was originally published by Longwood Academic, and is now available in a revised, illustrated version. Mary Rae is also an artist and illustrator, and a composer of contemporary classical music. Examples of her music may be found on her site, maryraemusic. A native of Virginia, Mary has lived for many years in South Florida.
Below you will find "Pearl," as well as a video slideshow with Mary Rae reading her work. Music composed by Mary Rae.
I never met you, but I know you well.
Your smile, your chin, your hair, your dark brown eyes
are features that I wear and plagiarize
as if I’d crawled into your empty shell.
Such resemblance, Grandmother, is strange,
and forces me to delve into our genes
and wonder if the strands that made us so
would have made us likely to exchange
thoughts on Wordsworth, Titian, and Rousseau,
and on the line dividing blues and greens.
I heard you liked to sing, and so do I,
but was there matching resonance and tone?
And did you like to spend long hours alone
in heavy silence? I’ll never verify
the similarities that I infer,
and feel deprived that you died of the flu
so very young, at only twenty-six,
leaving memories all in a blur,
too jumbled for your little boy to fix
into a coherent, breathing you.
Below Mary Rae reads a poem from her collection.
What is this sad and alien world
into which they've come,
with field and sky unclean, and darkened sea?
With a flag of plague unfurled
and slowly beating drum,
the shrinking earth disputes eternity.
Yet, like flowers, children grow
beneath the finite shade,
and every leaf they touch they consecrate.
They rise and stretch their arms to show
how beautifully they're made,
and turn the world into a virgin slate.