By Mary Szybist Mary Szybist
Mary who mattered to me, gone or asleep
among fruits, spilled   

in ash, in dust, I did not   

leave you. Even now I can't keep from
composing you, limbs & blue cloak   

& soft hands. I sleep to the sound   

of your name, I say there is no Mary   
except the word Mary, no trace   

on the dust of my pillowslip. I only   

dream of your ankles brushed by dark violets,
of honeybees above you   

murmuring into a crown. Antique queen,   

the night dreams on: here are the pears
I have washed for you, here the heavy-winged doves,   

asleep by the hyacinths. Here I am,   

having bathed carefully in the syllables   
of your name, in the air and the sea of them, the sharp scent   

of their sea foam. What is the matter with me?

Mary, what word, what dust   
can I look behind? I carried you a long way   

into my mirror, believing you would carry me

back out. Mary, I am still   
for you, I am still a numbness for you.

Source: Poetry (November 2008).


This poem originally appeared in the November 2008 issue of Poetry magazine

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November 2008
 Mary  Szybist


Mary Szybist grew up in Pennsylvania. She earned degrees from the University of Virginia and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was a Teaching-Writing Fellow. Her first collection of poetry, Granted (2003), was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the winner of the 2004 Great Lakes Colleges Associations New Writers Award.  Her second book, Incarnadine (2013), won the National Book Award for Poetry. . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Religion, Christianity, Gender & Sexuality, Faith & Doubt

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

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