calyx (n.) the sepals of a flower, typically forming a whorl that encloses the petals and forms a protective layer around a flower in bud; a cup-like cavity or structure; a journal of art and literature by women produced in Corvalis, OR, and now celebrating its 35th year.
Reader, last week this journal appeared in my mailbox. On page 39 is a poem I wrote about motherhood called “A Wendy House.”
I wrote “Wendy House” when I was in the thick of it — three very small children and in poor health from my chronic autoimmune condition, living far from family, winter. I had been reading Peter Pan to the children (or to the 2/3 of the children who were old enough to listen at that point), and came to the passage about the Darling children’s arrival at the island of Neverland. Do you remember that Wendy was struck by an arrow (Tink’s) and came down from her flight dead, or nearly dead? Then the lost boys built a house around and over her, hoping to protect her, or maybe hoping only to revive her. They wanted a mother.
This passage in the Peter Pan story made me think about life — the way we think our life is going to unfold versus the way it actually does unfold. The “island of make-believe and the same island come true,” as I quote in the epigraph to the poem. And also about motherhood, and the great needs of children, and how all mothers start out as “only / a girl. With no experience.”
This poem was an idea that brewed for a while. Then one day I said to myself, “It’s time to write the Wendy House poem.” I sat down and wrote it, worked on it for a few months, then began sending it out. It was rejected severally (as usual), but this fall I had a note from CALYX saying they’d like to publish it.
I am honored to have my work in the same volume as pieces containing these lines:
“… so slack / are the strings between my bones, so lucky / is my electric blood to be inside my skin.” — from “Reading Whitman in the Chemo Room” by Rochelle Hurt
“Tang was laughing a jellyfish laugh, with his hands on his stomach as it swelled and shriveled.” –from “The Vestige” by Rita Chang
“That’s all there was, it wasn’t much but joy is like that, / joy surprises: the scent of mint, a baby’s wrist, a woman / in a white truck, driving.” — from “Woman in a White Truck, Driving” by Sarah Rossiter
and, this bit from “The Apple Orchard” by Bethany Reid, winner of the 2011 Lois Cranston Memorial Poetry Prize:
“Spring mornings / it was a regular whorehouse / of an orchard, the trees / frowsy and bedraggled, / in nightgowns and slippers, / hair tangled, lipstick askew, / straps slipping from their shoulders.”
!!!!! a regular whorehouse / of an orchard !!!!! Reader, that line alone is worth the cover price.
And speaking of the cover, I find the cover photograph to be absolutely stunning. I think it’s my favorite journal cover ever. Have I mentioned how much I love the cover?
If you haven’t read CALYX, let me recommend it. I’ve read it for years, either borrowing it from friends or subscribing. It never disappoints, is always full of good poetry, fiction, essays, art, and book reviews. It’s thick and varied enough that you can keep it on your nightstand and read through it for months. Happy 35th birthday to CALYX. And thank you for finding a home for Wendy in your pages.