A. E. Stallings These poems are forthcoming in a new collection due out from Farrar, Straus and Giroux. For AtalantaYour name is long and difficult, I know. So many people whom we didn’t askHave told us soAnd taken us to task.You too perhaps will wonder as you growAnd blame us with the venom of thirteenFor ruining your life,Using our own love against us, keenAs a double-bladed knife.Already I can picture the whole scene.How will we answer you?Yes, you were in a hurry to arriveAs if it were a race to be alive. We weighed the syllables, and they rang true,And we were hoping tooYou’d come to like the storiesOf princesses who weren’t set on shelvesLike china figurines. Not allegories, But girls whose gloriesIncluded rescuing themselves, Slaying their own monsters, running freeBut not running away. It might be roughSingled out for singularity.Tough.Beauty will be of some help. You’ll see.But it is not enough To be nimble, brave or fleet.O apple of my eye, the world will drop Many gilded baubles at your feetTo break your stride: don’t look down, don’t stoopTo scoop them up, don’t stop. (first appeared in Five Points) Autumn Pruning for Evelyn et spatio brevi spem longam resecesYou’re doing them no favorsLetting them get too tallToo fast for their own good;Curtail the sprawl.They’ll only get leggy and weakAnd die fasterIf you don’t take things in hand And show them who’s master.Pretend you are that leveller, The wind, unsheatheYour blades—be the gnawingGrazer’s teeth. Fall back, cluck the clocks:The hour you’re dreading Comes with time on its handsFor the deadheading.You water them and feed themAnd call yourself a gardener.You coddle and you pardon:Be harder and hardener. (first appeared in Subtropics) EmpathyMy love, I’m grateful tonightOur listing bed isn’t a raftPrecariously adriftAs we dodge the coast-guard light,And clasp hold of a girl and a boy.I’m glad we didn’t wakeOur kids in the thin hours, to takeNot a thing, not a favorite toy,And didn’t hand over our cashTo one of the smuggling rackets, That we didn’t buy cheap lifejacketsNo better than bright orange trashAnd less buoyant. I’m glad that the darkAbove us is not deeply twinnedBeneath us, and moiled with wind,And we don’t scan the sky for a mark,Any mark, that demarcates a shoreAs the dinghy starts taking on water.I’m glad that our six-year old daughter,Who can’t swim, is a foot off the floor In the bottom bunk, and our sonWith his broken arm’s high and dry,That the ceiling is not seeping sky,With our journey but hardly begun.Empathy isn’t generous,It’s selfish.It’s not being niceTo say I would pay any priceNot to be those who’d die to be us. (first appeared in Literary Matters) First MiracleHer body like a pomegranate tornWide open, somehow bears what must be born,The irony where a stranger small enoughTo bed down in the ox-tongue-polished troughErupts into the world and breaks the spellOf the ancient, numbered hours with his yell. Now her breasts ache and weep and soak her shirtWhenever she hears his hunger or his hurt;She can’t change water into wine; insteadShe fashions sweet milk out of her own blood. (first appeared in Poetry) MomentaryI never glimpse her but she goesWho had been basking in the sun,Her links of chain mail one by oneAglint with pewter, bronze and rose.I never see her lying coiledAtop the garden step, or underA dark leaf, unless I blunderAnd by some motion she is foiled.Too late I notice as she passes Zither of chromatic scale— I only ever see her tail Quicksilver into tall grasses. I know her only by her flowing,By her glamour disappearingInto shadow as I’m nearing—I only recognize her going. (first appeared in Poetry) Copyright © 2017 A. E. Stallings A. E. Stallings, born in 1968, is an American poet who has lived in Athens, Greece since 1999. She studied Classics at the University of Georgia, and later at Oxford University. She has published three collections of poetry, Archaic Smile (which won the 1999 Richard Wilbur Award), Hapax (recipient of the Poets’ Prize), and Olives, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her translation of Lucretius (into rhyming fourteeners), The Nature of Things came out from Penguin Classics in 2009, and was called by Peter Stothard in the TLS “One of the most extraordinary classical translations of recent times.” Her new translation of Hesiod’s Works and Days, is also forthcoming from Penguin Classics. She has received a translation grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (US), and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and United States Artists, as well as a "genius grant" from the MacArthur foundation. She is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. These poems are forthcoming in a new collection due out from Farrar, Straus and Giroux.She is married to the journalist, John Psaropoulos, and has two children, Jason and Atalanta.