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Marcella Durand reads from To husband is to tender


With some books of poetry, you can jump in anywhere, but with Marcella Durand’s To husband is to tender, I would say, “Start at the beginning, and let the book draw you in.” Contemplation, what it means to be together and apart, a Venn Diagram of what I am, what you are, and what we are together takes on the shapes of grosbeaks, circles, tender landscapes, and lines of French by Apollinaire; in the turning pages the poet’s seer ability finds one thing in another and sees things as they are.

Look longingly toward
land when at sea, look
longingly toward water
when on land. Always
struggle to understand.

Understanding is beautiful, a sharing, a couple, a husband and wife together; and it is as ephemeral as the letter W turning out to be “hands spread out and up with thumbs touching.” In the Vimeo below, Marcella reads from To tender is to husband. Enjoy.



I wanted to type out two poems from the book, and it was such a hard decision, I typed out three.


To husband is to tender

to tend to tend to

as if one depends body and mind and soul upon
whom one is tending

a husband is with whom we are tender

to tend

to take care of

to watch carefully

the male falsetto is particularly tender

richness of deepness underpinning the high notes

sense of the male making himself vulnerable, by singing of his loves
opening his mouth and tongue to the vibrato
the male bird in bright plumage
the grosbeak with his bright rose chest
opening himself to visibility and from there, predators
the grosbeak with his black back
and yellow beak, and his song

to the female grosbeak
bright in her own way, brown
and stripes down her back.
With her pale eyebrows,
listening, listening to the song
of the male grosbeak and
deciding whether it is


two circles filled with letters
overlap each other
and in that space combine
to form words we are saying,
words we may think
about later, maybe
glad they were said


To husband is to tender is published by Black Square Editions. You can check it out here:



drawing by Brendan Lorber


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