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The Compost Heap
A. E. Stallings


It waxed with autumn, when the leaves—
Dogwood, oak and sycamore—
Avalanched the yard and slipped
Like unpaid bills beneath the door.

In winter it gave off a warmth
And held its ground against the snow,
The barrow of the buried year,
The swelling that spring stirred below.

In summer, we’d identify
The volunteers and green recruits,
A sapling apple or a pear
That stemmed from bruised and bitten fruits.

And everything we threw away
And we forgot, would by and by
Return to earth, or drop its seed
Take root and start to ramify.

We left the garden in the Fall—
You turned the heap up with a rake
And startled latent in its heart
The dark glissando of the snake.

From Olives (forthcoming from Northwestern University Press).
This poem first appeared in the National Poetry Review and on Verse Daily (2004).
Copyright © 2004 A. E. Stallings.
Used here with the author’s permission.

Daughter of a university professor and a librarian, Alicia Elsbeth Stallings gained an awareness of reading and writing at an early age. Fond of William Blake and T.S. Eliot (though she says A. E. Housman is her favorite poet), she began publishing poems while still in high school. A fan of classical myths and fairy tales, Alicia has established a reputation as a formalist; she is the author of two award-winning books and a Latin verse translation. Raised in Decatur, Georgia, she and her husband, John Psaropoulos, moved to Greece in 1999, where Alicia is program director for the Athens Centre and he is editor of the Athens News. Her latest book, Olives, is scheduled for publication in April 2012.


Olives: Poems
by A. E. Stallings

Post New Comment:
Thanks Marilyn for that information. I can certainly see why. And thanks Alicia, so many refreshing phrases, barrow of the buried year, dark glissando of the snake, etc. Love the layering.
Posted 10/21/2011 03:07 PM
wendy morton:
How I love the exquisite rhythms of this poem and her images: " the barrow of the buried year", " the dark glissando of the snake."
Posted 10/21/2011 11:12 AM
Marilyn L Taylor:
Thought the readers of YDP should know that Alicia Stallings is a recent recipient (2011) of a MacArthur Genius Grant. And deservedly so!!
Posted 10/21/2011 09:40 AM

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