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Sample Poems by Mary Swope


Hearing News from the Border

March 2, 2018

After all, we're all exiles
from other times or places,
longing for past Edens
where we know our
minds and bodies belong.

Not all of us are refugees
fleeing imposed terrors:
violations still recalled
in shame, that bitter herb.
We can only imagine

how it feels to be the occupied,
disrespected, a being whose soft
privacy has been invaded,
whose deepest self
destroyed. Our orchards

taken from us, our anger
disallowed, merest needs denied,
from place to place we run, exiled,
seeking some other Eden,
snakeless, secure.

Young Wife

She doesn’t see the unmade bed,
pajamas flung on the floor, her panties
left in a heap by the dresser, the mug
ringed with coffee, cold on her desk
until she hears his key in the door—
her mother’s voice inside her head.



After

When you left me there, I didn’t weep or dream
or put a record on the gramophone.
I wrapped the cheese back in its cellophane,
opened and shut the icebox, washed a spoon
and wished I were a little girl again.


Mussels

Eating these soft lips
pink, fringed where they part,
—dark cilia once matching
the blue-black shells that shielded them—

puts me in mind of the smiling, blue
Lord Krishna painted on silk
and his nine delighted handmaidens in pink, orange and gold,
beside a river with lotus and waterlilies

—and of a picnic under flowering trees,
just you and I, eating mussels.


Texas Falls, Early Spring

For Gerry

How green the river is,
stained by hemlock
rooted in those rock banks;
how gold it is, curling over stones
rounded by water’s work,
the heavy rush and glide.
Stones sing in the river; mica flecks
like true gold in a frog’s eye.

From the double-chambered heart
where pouring water delivers its turmoil,
the breath of winter rises.
We hold our breath and each other
swept nearly over the edge
by this miracle of outpouring:
a sustained melt and thunder
that enlarges the heart.