Anne Marie Macari


Talking to the children’s absence, you imagine them
canoeing or sitting before a fire, sparks
arcing like imitation stars. There’s so much to say,
even in the unrelenting heat, the sun
balanced overhead while you collect facts for them
as if they can hear you: how the barracuda’s jaw
can spread so wide then thrash and rip into anything,
how bees can’t find their hive if it’s moved
more than a few inches, how your own house settles
fraction by fraction into clay and river stone,
and dust is alive though you sweep it into piles
meaning the desert is a guest in the corner
of your room, meaning your feet keep stirring clouds
of creatures and you pass over animal and plant
and never feel the burden, or do feel the burden and bend
like a sapling, like a heavy flower brushing
the ground. This is what separation trains you for.
You as an envelope releasing them, you ripping
the cord, you with your stains on them, the ones
you need ten hundred mirrors
to see. The old goddess of tether and straw, the one
who makes you to lie down, to be crushed
till you come out oil of fish, oil of granite, come out
ash and live in the fine grit under their feet,
who licked you alive and left the taste in your own mouth,
your own love: sand, ground tooth, spider,
sawdust, hair, and adoration turned to powder,
and absence teaching its teaching and all
you cannot say, you’ll never say, swallowed, a coating
inside lungs and all passageways, all orifices being
the openings of absence, and what you want to say turns
to air, but you try your prayer once more: old goddess
of rain, wash us with your silent tongue as if
we were always being born, just born, slick
and stunned, with our legs kicking

Ann Marie Macari
Absence is reprinted from Gloryland (Alice James Books, 2005).