Linda Pastan

Each couplet should be a poem in itself, like a pearl in a necklace . . .
—Len Anderson, “The Ghazal”

If each couplet should represent a single pearl,
are these strung beads at my throat words disguised as pearls?
The hooked fish looks up at them with recognition
as his eyes fade to the opacity of pearls.
When I was young I wandered in Hawthorne’s landscape
but didn’t comprehend the innocence of Pearl.
In the spinning galaxy of the family,
the youngest has always been considered the pearl.
Irritation is the dark underside of love.
Just ask the oyster his method for making pearls.
Would one go to a death by water willingly,
believing Prospero’s sea change: eyes into pearls?
Dusk steals up on them as they sit, barely talking,
under a shadowy sky, all mother-of-pearl.
If a perfect woman is worth more than rubies,
am I, so far from perfection, worth less than pearls?

Linda Pastan was Poet Laureate of Maryland from 1991-95. In 2003 she won the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. Her thirteenth book, Traveling Light, was published in January 2011. 

“Necklace” appears in our Summer 2014 issue.