The Long Study by Alexei Perry Cox

.              Mother, now listen to my words. I see
            Your soul in anger; this is a foolish and an evil rage.
.             Oh, I know when we stand before a helpless
.             Doom, how hard it is to bear. [pause]

           —from “Iphigenia in Aulis,” Euripides

The Mother talked to me
as if I were drawing her naked.
There are no hard edges
to the living flesh
especially to the loosened skin
but we draw them anyway, deceive,
because we cannot see
what we see
we make believe:
Mother, now listen to my words. I see 

She loves to say things:
The older I am
the more I know
I don’t know.

But also, sometimes just,
At my age
Oh I don’t know
It’s just another way to wage
your soul in anger; this is a foolish and an evil rage.

Tyranny doesn’t become palatable.
It becomes more palatable.
And when you are no longer
a woman drawn,
you are no longer a woman.
But not even an actress
can rehearse the underscore and colour
of the irony that who loved more
becomes less.
Oh, I know when we stand before a helpless

wish I could render her then
still her life
from the sadness
that takes over
from within
what she has become, with cause,
becoming her only perfect geometry:
the sharp pupil of her dilating eyes knows flaws.
Doom, how hard it is to bear. [pause]


Copyright © Alexei Perry Cox. Winner of the 2014 Vallum Award for Poetry and originally published in Vallum (12:1 “Surrender”).


Alexei Perry Cox is the author of the poetry collection Under Her. Her poetry, fiction and non-fiction works have appeared in publications such as The Puritan, Vallum, Matrix, Cosmonauts AvenueLemonhound and The Beijinger. Excerpts of her forthcoming manuscript Finding Places to Make Places have been printed, often in different iterations, in The Fiddlehead (Fredericton), carte-blanche (Montreal) Hart House Review (Toronto), Contemporary Verse 2 (Winnipeg), Headlight Anthology (Montreal), and Journal Safar (جورنال سفر), Rusted Radishes and Makhzin (مخزن) in Beirut. She is finishing this manuscript and parenting two wondrous and very wee young ones named Isla and Ilham.

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Vallum: Contemporary Poetry is a Montreal-based literary magazine. Founded in 2000, the biannual magazine publishes poetry, art, reviews, essays, and interviews by writers and artists from around the world. Our magazine and contributors have won some of literature’s highest honours, including Pushcart Prizes, the Governor General’s Award, National Magazine Awards, and more.

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