One Afternoon [“A woman stepped outside, crumbled...”]

By Joanie Mackowski b. 1963 Joanie Mackowski
A woman stepped outside, crumbled
into a loose particulate, and, as the breeze
blew up from the east, she scattered: her handful
of heart, volcanic ash, spiraled the highway,
and five of her teeth slipped between
her neighbor's breasts; her neighbor
unbuttoned her blouse to scratch
at her suddenly red and luminous skin.
Days passed. Each day the sun distractedly
drifted from chair to chair; each night the stars,
old scatterbrains, they commiserated.
It didn't rain. Strange, the granular woman
thought to herself: although I encompass
so much, I accomplish so little.
Her car sparkled with her hair and bones;
her garden thrived. She tried to think:
why did this happen? what had I eaten?
why was I bothered?—those old hours,
spotted and exotic lizards, darted
the gravel, flicking through their colors
of skin as one flicks channels on a tv.
She couldn't catch a one. Then, as a flock
of sparrows converging for the skull
of an oak, all her twittering dust,
her brain, bone, and the dangerous shreds
of her fingers clawed for the sky;
what an interesting cloud someone said.

NOTES: This poem was later published in Mackowski's book View from a Temporary Window (2010) as the sixth section of the poem "Case Studies in Metamorphosis," with the section title "Comedy."

Source: Poetry (July/August 2007).

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This poem originally appeared in the July/August 2007 issue of Poetry magazine

July/August 2007
 Joanie  Mackowski

Biography

Joanie Mackowski’s collections of poems are The Zoo (2002) and View from a Temporary Window (2010). She received a BA from Wesleyan University, was a Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University, and received a PhD from the University of Missouri. A professor at Cornell University, she has worked as a French translator, a journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area, and a juggler. She is the winner of the 2003 Kate Tufts . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Disappointment & Failure, The Body, Time & Brevity, Nature, Animals

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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