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Mary Szybist

Mary Szybist is the author of Incarnadine (Graywolf Press, 2013), winner of the 2013 National Book Award for Poetry, and Granted (Alice James Books, 2003), winner of the 2003 Beatrice Hawley Award from Alice James Books and the 2004 Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award. She is also the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rona Jaffe Foundation, and the Witter Bynner Foundation. She teaches at Lewis & Clark College and lives in Portland, Oregon.

By This Poet

3

In Tennessee I Found a Firefly

Flashing in the grass; the mouth of a spider clung
     to the dark of it: the legs of the spider
held the tucked wings close,
     held the abdomen still in the midst of calling
with thrusts of phosphorescent light--

When I am tired of being human, I try to remember
     the two stuck together like burrs. I try to place them
central in my mind where everything else must
     surround them, must see the burr and the barb of them.
There is courtship, and there is hunger. I suppose
     there are grips from which even angels cannot fly.
Even imagined ones. Luciferin, luciferase.
     When I am tired of only touching,
I have my mouth to try to tell you
     what, in your arms, is not erased.

In the Beginning God Said Light

and there was light.
Now God says, Give them a little theatrical lighting
 
and they’re happy,
and we are. So many of us
 
dressing each morning, testing
endless combinations, becoming in our mirrors
 
more ourselves, imagining,
in an entrance, the ecstatic
 
weight of human eyes.
Now that the sun is sheering
 
toward us, what is left
but to let it close in
 
for our close-up? Let us really feel
how good it feels
 
to be still in it, making
every kind of self that can be
 
looked at. God, did you make us
to be your bright accomplices?
 
God, here are our shining spines.
Let there be no more dreams of being
 
more than a beginning.
Let it be
 
that to be is to be
backlit, and then to be only that light.