Mary is a poet that teaches at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. Her poetry has been called both melodic and weighty. I was first introduced to Mrs. Szybist’s writing through the Poetry Foundation’s website. Ms Szybist most recent collection of poems, Incarnadine, received the 2013 National Book Award. Listen to her reading one of my favorite poems here, or read it below.
On Wanting to Tell [ ] about a Girl Eating Fish Eyes
By Mary Szybist
—how her loose curls float
above each silver fish as she leans in
to pluck its eyes—
You died just hours ago.
Not suddenly, no.
You’d been dying so long
nothing looked like itself: from your window,
fishermen swirled sequins;
fishnets entangled the moon.
Now the dark rain
looks like dark rain. Only the wine
shimmers with candlelight. I refill the glasses
and we raise a toast to you
as so and so’s daughter—elfin, jittery as a sparrow—
slides into another lap
to eat another pair of slippery eyes
with her soft fingers, fingers rosier each time,
for being chewed a little.
If only I could go to you, revive you.
You must be a little alive still.
I’d like to put this girl in your lap.
She’s almost feverishly warm and she weighs
hardly anything. I want to show you how
she relishes each eye, to show you
her greed for them.
She is placing one on her tongue,
bright as a polished coin—
What do they taste like? I ask.
Twisting in my lap, she leans back
sleepily. They taste like eyes, she says.
Source: Poetry (November 2008).