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Wednesday, April 29, 2020


by Jenna Le

In Eavan Boland’s poem “Quarantine,”
there’s much to be admired: how she rhymes
slant, rhyming 1847 with woman,

say, or how the perished man and woman
in the three lines that start with line 18
are dignified, like headstones touched with rime,

by strict iambic beats. The point that rhymes
most richly with me, living as a woman
in a world starved gray by quarantine

in this year of our Lord COVID-19,
however, is the way that Boland’s rhymes
affirm love’s primacy: I’m not the woman

her poem describes, the starving Irish woman
whose feet, for lack of shoes of soft sateen,
molded themselves against her husband’s grime-

dark chest; yet Boland’s poem reminds me I’m
a member of the cult of man and woman,
built like a virus from the same protein.

Jenna Le is the author of Six Rivers (NYQ Books, 2011) and A History of the Cetacean American Diaspora (Indolent Books, 2017), a Second Place winner in the Elgin Awards. She was selected by Marilyn Nelson as winner of Poetry By The Sea’s inaugural sonnet competition and by Julie Kane as winner of Poetry By The Sea’s sonnet crown competition the following year. Her poetry appears or is forthcoming in AGNI, Denver Quarterly, Los Angeles Review, Massachusetts Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Pleiades, Poet Lore, and West Branch