Head, Gwen

United States, (b. 1940)


(A poem in the manner of the fruit
and vegetable portraits of Arcimboldo)

  1. The wind grinds its teeth. A sleepless moon
  2. floats in a sea of purple lees and whey.
  3. In a snarl of tendril tails and flap ears,
  4. ripe backs bulging like gourds, the pigs wait for their queen.
  5. Their delicate trotters pinch the silken mud,
  6. trying its texture. Intelligent and mean,
  7. their black eyes swarm over her like aphids.
  9. Bare feet precise as mattocks, she advances
  10. through a meadow blue with chicory and forget-me-nots.
  11. She wears a gown of thin and luminous onionskin.
  12. Her hair is a rumpled cataract of fennel.
  14. Lady of gardens, she offers up her burdens,
  15. lets them devour the shapes they have made their own:
  16. garlands of shaved peel, cushions of pulp, mounds
  17. and ruffles of crisp and moist, the better rind
  18. and grimy roots of her being, forked and swollen.
  20. All, down to the shriveled and lethal kernel,
  21. final, adamant, ominous as bone
  22. she tenders her lovers, mistress of sty, kennel,
  23. and lair, sum of her offerings, slut queen.

© Gwen Head. Frequencies: A Gamut of Poems. Salt Lake City: Univ. of Utah Press, (1992).

About the Poet

Gwen Head (b. 1940) is U.S. poet, essayist and fiction writer. Her works have appeared in The American Poetry Review, The Yale Review, American Voice, The Southern Review, and Ballet Review, and many other publications.

She has taught at the Iowa Writers Workshop, the Writers at Work Conference in Park City, Utah and the University of California, Davis, as well as many other writers conferences.

Head’s honors include a 1995 Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts that supported the completion of her 2001 book of poetry, Fire Shadows. [DES-11/10]

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