Heavily influenced by a family of writers and artists, including the late poet Ruth Stone, Bianca Stone began writing poems at a very early age. She collaborated with the poet and essayist Anne Carson on Antigonick, published by New Directions in 2012. She lives in New York City.
Bianca Stone’s poems are powerful, moving, and original. There is an amazing image center in her brain! Her brain (psyche, heart) can wrestle the matter of life to the ground (a pleasure for matter), and shapechange with it, and it does not give up its ghost but reveals, in joy and sorrow, its spirit. Stone’s poems are highly charged, lively, and interesting. They are fiercely anti-sentimental, and emotionally generous.
—Sharon Olds, Pulitzer-Prize–winning author of Stag’s Leap
Someone Else’s Wedding Vows
The rise of Australopithecus. The weird clouds over Long Island
at the classic wedding. The crowd frightened of what it means
having O’Hara’s avocado salad poem read.
It’s an evil waste of time for me to congratulate anything.
Accuracy comes to me, slips out
in fragments of my earlier works recited
in the secret weapon defense committees.
I am president of the clams. Seduced by foodservice;
purple squid sinking in their own pitiful mantle,
irrevocable among the dinner rolls.
I would pay to feel good all the time.
But I’m telling stories to the churchless evening,
watching lost guests take paper plates to inoffensive tables
illuminated with Greta Garbo centerpieces.
Bring me to the oak out front and tell me you love me
I say to the family dog. The pool is lit with unscented candles.
Hillery stands on a chair;
we’re taking the wedding photographs,
practicing someone else’s dutiful permanence.
Clusters of sequin around the bar;
hand reaches around a white waist and considers literature
for the first time in months—
this is the sea that arranges inside us,
the burning ship that drifts with its burning, anxious crew—
the rest we can sum up in several lines about perpetuity.
The rest we can owe to our complex digestive systems
working out the squid covered in light-reflective cells,
changing color according to the gut
which humans will someday be able to do.
This is a colder evening in September.
The sun drapes its modern dread across everything.
The front lawn has never had its chance with violent, unkempt beauty—
but something dark stirs in the incipient mums.
I want to embrace whatever is firmer and bigger than myself.
Like the sound of the wind around the tent
or everyone inventing their own colloquial happiness,
acting out, too bored or wired
with rancor to stop eating. And it’s true
I spent my whole life in fear of sharing my mind
but with a longing for it to be taken.
Year after year I could not even order myself to be touched.
I became a waitress who looked sad, dropping occasionally
into the bed of a maniac, who looked sadder
and meaner. I should have gone out into the field every night
to watch black bears growl in honeysuckle.
Or absorbed myself in the essays of Empson, which I never finished.
I’m still somewhere in the mountains of Vermont,
exhibiting relatively high intelligence.
Somewhere I’m communicating.
And where it’s driest I sit down with my wet drink.
I drink for the incidental. The heart of dust.
For my family and all their uneven moods.
For this audience of discreet psychotics
poising for photographs.
For the living deer ravaging gardens.
For the touch of sub-shrubs: lavender,
periwinkle and thyme—
touching the lingering otherness—
for this not being known,
and for the ordinary monstrous knowing I love.