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“A pawn, a queen, a riddle, a smile”

Friday from the Archives: “Alice,” a poem, by Marly Youmans, from NCLR 25 (2016)

As we approach summertime in the Northern Hemisphere, a poem from our 25th Anniversary issue for the occasion. “Alice” is one of four poems from Youmans selected as Applewhite finalists in 2015. Listen to the poet read the poem aloud on our Youtube channel.

When the cucumber

Soared into the live oak tree

– Vines flying up from sugar slag –

When the moonflowers vied

With the moon in the branches,

When miniature towers and cities

Spired under our house on piers,

I fled in the sunshine with Alice.

At night I flopped on my belly with her books,

Poring over the big-eyed pictures,

Longing for the Dormouse or the Dodo,

Bird with the figure of a matron

And a name like a Do-do-deca

Dodgson stammer.

Marly Youmans grew up in Cullowhee, NC, and other places in the South. She received degrees from Hollins College (now University), Brown University, and UNC Chapel Hill and now lives in Cooperstown, NY. She has published ten novels and five books of poetry.

Read the entire piece on ProQuest or purchase a copy of the 2016 issue with the feature “Celebrating 25 Years of North Carolina Literary Review“.