NEA Literature Fellowships

Jacqueline Lyons

Back to NEA Literature Fellowships
(2003 - Poetry)

The Miner's Wife

sees dark crescent moons
in a sky of light
the dirt forever curving
under his fingernails.
When he goes below the earth
unnaturally, farther than
he could go alone, farther
than he would go for himself,
her own gravity threatens
to tear loose. At the store
she might rise and bump
the shelves of flour and sugar,
making them shudder
and sift themselves down.
Dreams her husband in a jar
she can see into though no light
passes through or reaches
his night inside it.
He works the black
with bare hands, becoming darker
and darker, disappearing,
and she shakes the jar
to make him reappear.

Jacqueline Lyons' first collection of poetry, The Way They Say Yes Here, is being published by Hanging Loose Press as part of their 2003-2004 series. She has won a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship, and her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her poems and essays have appeared in numerous journals, such as Barrow Street, Bellingham Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Chattahoochee Review, Florida Review, Hanging Loose, Permafrost, Phoebe, Puerto del Sol, Quarter After Eight, Sonora Review, Turnrow, and others. She earned her MFA in Poetry from Colorado State University, and is currently working on a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing in Salt Lake City, Utah, where she also serves as nonfiction editor for Quarterly West.

Author's Statement

Above my writing desk I have posted this quotation by Virginia Woolf: "It is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth sometimes comes to the top." I take "truth" to mean the individual, the original. The NEA grant gives to writers our hottest commodity: time. I have already been able to take one summer off of paid labor to write, and will do the same the next two summers. I do believe that a writer needs time enough to hear through the world's white noise in order to tune into her own voice and poetry. Part the work for my first book was to spend a lot of time thinking and reinhabiting the setting of my Peace Corps days in Southern Africa. My present project, which imagines different details and a different fate for Roanoke's Lost Colony, has so far involved reading a range of Renaissance texts, as well as thinking about perception and the nuances of encounters with the new and the strange.