Kingdom of Lost Waters
Hess’s strategies for revelation vary from the Roethkean contemplation of “little” events, to assuming the myths of native Americans, to direct contemporary narrative. Many of these poems read like meditations, where little presupposition is imposed upon landscapes or objects. Hess’s careful imagery allows the grasshopper, the cloud, and even the artist Rubens to speak to the reader. The power of the Western landscape and the human heart coalesce in Hess’s verse.
The full text of Sonya Hess’s Kingdom of Lost Waters is stored at Albertson Library at Boise State University, and can be downloaded here. You may also purchase a copy of the book.
from “The Gods in Winter”
Father Sun, Mother Moon
The strong man holds his palm
up over the pines, the birches.
He puts one finger on clear ice
and shines through. Is my face
hot from his hand, is it
cold from the glass?
The hem of his tunic, embroidered
with planets, brushes my roof
as he takes his big stride.
In the afternoon he pisses a river
into the valley, steam rises,
the houses close their eyes.
I lie down. The ice stands up
in the window. Slowly the woman
unveils her cantaloupe dances,
seeding my dreams.
My fingers close in sleep
trying to catch her scarf.
She steps over my body,
carrying her lamp along
night's springboard to the pool
at the end of the world.
Copyright © 1993 by Sonya Hess
Sonya Hess was born in New York City, and grew upon a farm in Massachusetts. Her mother died when Hess was very young, but a foster mother instilled in her a love for reading and literature which included the Bible, Greek mythology, Buddhist texts, Yeats, Eliot, Shakespeare, and the natural sciences. These interests gradually led to her continual study of contemporary literature and criticism.
On her own at an early age, Hess held a wide variety of jobs over the years, from cleaning stables, working in kennels, packing fish, and cooking on a tuna boat to office work and a stint as a Spanish dancer. Her favorite non-writing job was working one winter in a greenhouse where classical music was provided to keep the plants happy.
Hess has always been a writer. She has published short fiction in a wide range of magazines, from Redbook and McCall's to The Denver Quarterly to The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. She has been awarded writing fellowships with The Macdowell Colony, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and The Helen Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico. She has published an adventure novel for young readers and six volumes of poetry: Poems (Ohio State U. Press), Stretching Fence (Ohio U. Press), A Paper Raincoat (PuckerBrush Press), The Far Traveler (Juniper Press), Palace of Earth (PuckerBrush Press), and Constellations of the Inner Eye (PuckerBrush Press).
In the mid-1980's, Hess moved from Maine to northern New Mexico, where she presently resides.