‘This long prose poem came out of nowhere, dream-like – but as I shaped it, I found it pointed to what is real and social: Western cisgender womanhood, heterosexual marriage and the negotiations of privilege.’
Meryl Pugh lives in East London and teaches for Poetry School and the University of East Anglia. Her first full collection, Natural Phenomena (2018, Penned-in-the-Margins) was a Poetry Book Society Spring Guest Choice, a Poetry School Book of the Year, Highly Commended in the Forward Prizes and long-listed for the 2020 Laurel Prize.
WIFE OF ORISIS
Wife of Osiris is a a pamphlet-length prose poem which considers the ambivalent privilege of heterosexual marriage via the Egyptian myth of Osiris. It asks what happens to good intentions in unequal romantic contracts and where loyalty, wonder and tenderness are best placed in misogynist, violent or indifferent environments. This is an exciting new work from Meryl, wonderfully realised.
She walks in light pyjamas through groups of people holding wine glasses, under arches, over paving, through lobbies and foyers and atria; she is looking for her street, her flat. The concert is about to begin, there are smiles, but she has gone the wrong way and feels stupid. She is not going to the concert.
The wife of Osiris is too bright and hard for this place, she bursts out through the double doors into the night, she begs her god’s fire to come out of the sky and take her. But the street light is still the street light, the young glance nervously, there is no one here who wants her or who she wants. And her husband, who knew it would be this way, is still absent.