If by Song by Marcia Karp

If by Song

Poetry by Marcia Karp Includes 3 dollars for shipping


This is the product of years of beautiful painstaking skillful devotion to her art. How many of these remarkable poems are written in this house, and about this house, in the context of its family tragedies. Poem after poem, housekeeping, self-keeping, with the authority of her identity in the power of her writing. I have admired Marcia Karp’s work for years, and now it is here.

David Ferry, author of Bewilderment

After All Is

In the end of the light,
in my dim eyes,
you were a tender species.

Your forward limbs
pulling your back flat as it could ever be
you bared yourself and prepared yourself for me

who history swallowed.

I was only woman waiting for man –
Culture unheard of
but what a wasteland!

Twilight birds sang us into night.
We tensed and stretched and met and laughed.
If you were a species, I was its female.
And the sweat poured from our almost hairless carcasses.

Oh, I Was a One

Oh, I was a one who, had I but been there,
would have, I would have done, done all that doing 
that would have been needed to be done.

Oh, I would have, I tell you, been the one to say – 
No!, to do –  the right and the noble.
Clean hands, oh, clean heart in my doing the deeds 
for the land, for the folk, for the highest of reason.

Oh, I I I I, had I only been there.

Now here there’s a wolf crying Wolf!,
sounding all about. Still, I raise no axe, 
I raise no horn, I raise no cry to shout the chaos out.

Oh, how can I ever be face to my face again now,
knowing what I know I know about me?

About the Author

Marcia Karp has published poems and translations in journals and
anthologies in England and America, including The Times Literary
Supplement; Harvard Review; The Guardian; Partisan Review;
Joining Music with Reason: 34 Poets, British and American, Oxford
2004-2009 (Waywiser); and The Word Exchange: Anglo-Saxon
Poems in Translation (Norton). She taught literary and editorial
matters at Boston University after earning graduate degrees there.