Looking In at Night

By Mary Kinzie b. 1944 Mary Kinzie
Asleep, alive, her shape makes me afraid.   
Afraid to lose what lasts a little while—
A curl of light along her shoulder blade,

One elbow up but the round ear in shade,   
Mouth serious, eyes inward in denial
Of waking life—her shape makes me afraid.

She is like a statue they’ve displayed,
A maiden’s (from the porch), with her unseeing smile.
Light is sketched along her shoulder blade

And weaves around her head like waves of braid,   
Suggesting hair in an archaic style,   
Asleep-alive. Her shape makes me afraid,

Every year the marble more decayed,   
The lines less clear. Time starts its slide,   
Curling the light along her shoulder blade

Then rubbing out the features we have made   
To take the wing and numbers from the dial.   
Alive in sleep her shape turns, unafraid,   
Drawing the night along her shoulder blade.

Mary Kinzie, “Looking In at Night” from Drift. Copyright © 2003 by Mary Kinzie. Used with the permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.

Source: Drift (Alfred A. Knopf, 2003)

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Poet Mary Kinzie b. 1944

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Subjects Living, Parenthood

Poetic Terms Villanelle

 Mary  Kinzie


Honored as a teacher and critic, Mary Kinzie has published several collections of critical essays as well as poetry. She has an MA from the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars and a PhD in English from Johns Hopkins University. Her collections of poetry include Autumn Eros and Other Poems (1991), Ghost Ship (1996), Drift (2003), and California Sorrow (2007). In 2008 Kinzie received the Folger Shakespeare Library’s O.B. . . .

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Poems by Mary Kinzie

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Parenthood

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Villanelle

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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