Marjory Wentworth


I was extremely influenced by my graduate school teacher Carolyn Forché, who included one prose poem “The Colonel” in her powerful collection The Country Between Us. She said that it could only be a prose poem. Poetic devices like meter etc. would not work with the material. Her book is full of poems that deal with equally difficult material, but once and a while you just know that prose is the only way to deal with the subject matter. I have only written about a dozen prose poems, and many of them did not start out that way. At a certain point the poem tells me what to do.




The Way It Should Be

          -- after a photograph by Lauren Preller


Things shouldn't have turned turn out this way. When her husband was still alive they would lie in bed and talk about this day: the sonnet he would read during the service, the eccentric relatives they would invite, the bagpipe player who would play after the ceremony on the church steps. She thinks now about the daughter, the young woman who is waiting, the bride who needs her mother.

Her gown is zipped, her hair half done. The young bride waits for her mother, who has been in the bathroom for at least ten minutes fiddling with her lipstick and the gardenia that refuses to stay pinned to the collar of her lavender linen suit. The mother is trying not to cry, looking at herself in the mirror as if that's where she will find strength. She has never felt so alone - this day that she has hoped for, this day that she has dreaded.

Outside, beneath a tent, the band is tuning their instruments and some of the grandmother’s friends are already sitting in the front row of the rented chairs. They are all wearing hats. Gracie, everyone's favorite, has on long white gloves. She is holding Victor, the black and white Boston terrier in her lap. He chews on the ends of the giant bow, tied around his neck. Gracie brought a fan, because she thinks of everything. She is fanning Victor. He pants in the heat and tries to lick the air that Gracie is mixing in front of him.

A steady stream of cars passes slowly through the driveway now. This all seems a million miles away to the bride, who is no longer watching out the bedroom window. Barefoot, her veil neatly draped on the back of her chair, she holds the roses and lavender lightly in one hand. Half dreaming, she waits for her mother to come and finish dressing her - like when she was small and couldn't button her shirt or tie her shoes... She likes the solitude, and she wants it to last. It gives her time to look up and imagine that her father is standing in the doorway wearing a tuxedo. He is waiting to take her hand and walk her down the stairs. Out the front door. Into the garden. Out into the world.





MARJORYW.JPGMarjory Wentworth's poems have appeared in numerous books and magazines, and she has been nominated for The Pushcart Prize three times. Noticing Eden, a collection of poems, was published by Hub City Writing Project in 2003. Her most recent book, Despite Gravity, was published by Ninety Six Press in Sep. 2007. She is the Poet Laureate of South Carolina.

Ms. Wentworth teaches poetry in “Expressions of Healing” - an arts and healing program for cancer patients and their families at Roper Hospital in Charleston, S.C. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Lowcountry Initiative for the Literary Arts (LILA), The University of South Carolina’s Poetry Initiative, The Poetry Society of South Carolina, and the SC Center for the Book. She reviews poetry and writes a poetry column for THE CHARLESTON POST AND COURIER . Marjory Wentworth lives in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina with her husband Peter and their three sons. She works as a book publicist.