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Sample Poems by Mary Crow

Linear Perspective

This woman radiates looking
as if gathering energy from
the horizon, long line in
a distance where foothills
dwindle into mounds preparing
to rise again, donning
their outlines while land
huddles, contracting miles.
Where horizon begins,
the boundaries of her body
begin to grow invisible.

Objects mirrored in her eye
pass through the black hole
in her pupil’s middle

so eye takes on body,
body enters eye.

Air that bears her body
makes it difficult to see
how it’s already disappearing.
Out of the loneliness around it,
her body creates another history,
a world made in its image.

Too Much and Not Enough

“We know too much and not
enough to touch place.”
—Cid Corman

Your silhouette falls
across the ice
as if even this bare landscape
were you, were what
I look for.

Sea a blue
sheen like rippled glass
wind burns
into silver pages.
Air sour with the smell of

thousands of penguins
while far away
glaciers calve
great booms of neon blue.
We walked up an icy slope:

It’s too big, you said,
gazing out toward cliffs
and light,
wide panorama of sea.
Beside you, I blinked windy sunlight.


telling us
apart telling
how we part
mirror twins
words double
back measure
of missing
body imagine
sphere stirred
or wobbling
scribbled over
rasping on
broken sides
seeking with
its halves to
spin away
a single orb
a slant dust
chiseling light

The Of

One way to keep a body light
is to live in abstractions, to love
the collective—mankind, mammals—
Sleeping together can multiply
grounds for disappointment.

I hungered for ground
underfoot, for air, as I sat on
steps to the canal beside the file
of smoky palaces, waiting
for a question to walk by.

Nothing much walked by
so there was neither antidote
to depression nor flag of
blessing, only endless questions
as I brooded on the violinist.

On August nights the violinist
played or recited poems by Celan
singsong as I lay in bed, keeping
me from studying Amhara, language
I would need in Tadjoura.

In Tadjoura letters crossed over
so slowly, I succumbed to heat
yet still set out for the interior,
caught up in body’s syntax.


You love the beast.
A map in hand
worth atlases of ruse,
you scramble up
a ladder of selves.
Too late to call out,
“It’s too late!”

Too late to hoist
a double axe,
let the wild
god leap out.
You’re in this maze,
sacral knot, too
late to retreat.

Mistress of
the Labyrinth,
no loophole of
eyes for you to
writhe through.
How it frets—that
knobby thread—