Poetry: Pattie McCarthy

from Marybones

          was wearing the ‘duration’ silhouette with aplomb (regulation L-85 set skirt lengths at 17 inches about the floor). was careful to keep her lips closed during all the Paters & Aves. was only a local phenomenon & thus no one intervened. was jumping rope, or posing for a photo as though jumping rope, circa 1913. was instructed to testify as to what she did, not what she thought. was surprised to unearth fragments of old burial stones in her backyard (there is a shovel to the left). was inappropriately dressed for such an unearthing in pedal-pushers & an off-the-shoulder top. was Mary Beton, Mary Seton, Mary Carmichael or any name you please— it is not a matter of any importance. was sitting on the banks of a river a week or two ago in fine October weather, lost in thought. was poleaxed. was not working beyond the margins provided. was taking in her ink-stained hands my own hands stained with ink. was the inquisition you’re in. was ready for a cluster feeding. was our lady of smooth delivery, carved in 1521.

mary is caulked & repaired in 1527        is made
new mary is in ordinary        mary is perished at their
battle stations is carrack-style is fired all
guns on one side & turning to fire
          the others mary is stabilized by
a layer of clay & crushed shells mary is guns
found centuries later still           loaded
mary is deeply in mud mary is one hundred
seventy skeletons        mary is one
of the first to fire a broadside             mary
                                  is a museum ship


a child holding a child she
said she’s a child holding
a child

the maternal body shall
shall not

architecture of privacy                    bodice was
                                      plural of body
bodies         a plural
                  body   an image for evening   she’s
                            an image for evening               an architecture of

a flavor of blasphemous
                            an image for evening

            orb    cherubim    forehead    it occurs to me
belatedly that                    (somehow) she is both standing & holding
the infant on her lap                  (how is that)

              orb (as a verb) she carries as an orb she carried
                                      cherubin (an order) orbed   owl-like
molded into the shape of the highest choir
                                       red & blue baby bodies            naked

              (how their bodies shine & how his)

like most lactans it lacks
                   a latch
                                   the architecture because the body came in

             parts which fastened in the middle

the body came in two parts the body in two the body two
one quarter cow & three quarters devil
                                              one part cow & nine parts devil

       the process of              uncorseting        diminutive

       she’s the plural
                body   two
                parts        held fast

*Jean Fouquet, right wing of the Melun Diptych, c. 1450


Pattie McCarthy is the author, most recently, of L&O, from Little Red Leaves. She is also the author of bk of (h)rs, Verso, Table Alphabetical of Hard Words, and Marybones forthcoming), all from Apogee Press. She teaches literature and creative writing at Temple University and is a 2011 Pew Fellow in the Arts. She lives just outside Philadelphia with her husband, Kevin Varrone, their three children, her mother, and their Great Dane.