Two Poems

by Vienna Wagner

The poem, "Esther," published here, won a special merit award in The Kenyon Review's Patricia Grodd poetry contest.

Comments for Two Poems

  • Ann Hostetler

    On January 14, 2012 Ann Hostetler wrote:

    From Brianna Brubaker: After going to the Mennonite Church USA convention this summer, I had the impression that Mennonite creative writing in an organized form was nearly nonexistent. However, I read some stellar writing on the website for the Center for Mennonite Writing.

    I especially enjoyed the poem Esther by Vienna Wagner. With Esther as the main character, the poem expertly explores the alienation and sensations that Esther feels as the king's wife. The speaker feels out of place, as her husband's servants try to scrub her heritage out of her. She still longs for her people and her homeland, even though she is now in a place of power and privilege.

    Imagery is central to the poem, as it begins with descriptions of Queen Vashti's presence lingering in the palace, in the scallop of the spoons and the scent of jasmine. The speaker describes the honey and myrrh she has bathed during her "stillborn" year, and compares herself to a straw clinging to a camel's back.

    Rhythm plays a part in the poem, as seen in the lines
    "I never climbed those olive trees or planted chickpea toes in promised soil." The first line is written in iambic tetrameter, and the second is written in iambic pentameter. Buoyed by rhythm, these lines emphasize the longing in the poem for a homeland and identity.

    This poem displays complexity and nuance and breathes new life into a old story.

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