Mudlark Poster No. 93 (2011)

Soon We Will Not Need Bread
Poems by Mary Hawley

Admitted Students’ Weekend | The New Frugality
Bad Dreams | My Chair Period | In the New Space

Admitted Students’ Weekend

All of our children are brilliant.
During the speeches they find each other on Facebook.
They are flushed with an experimental arrogance.

The tour guides are cheerful and brisk.
They are able to walk backwards in flip-flops talking to other people’s parents. 
And that is not all they have learned here.

The Dean of This confers with the Dean of That.
Yes, all of our children are beautiful.
That is why we are allowed to borrow more than is usual.

I pay for yet another sweatshirt.
Flowers dance in their beds like highly successful graduates.
We ride the trolley past yacht slips and pink hotels.

On the road to the airport traffic slows and smoothly divides itself. 
An overstuffed chair has landed upright across two lanes. 
Although it looks comfortable, so far no one has taken a seat.

The New Frugality

Once bits of soap were pressed into lumps, socks 
stretched over darning eggs, children 

scavenged coal along train tracks. The pot of soup 
held scraps, a bone’s memory 

of meat. Now there’s too much to unplug: you can’t 
give up the monthly plans. Think of Jo

in Little Women selling her hair for medicine, a story 
for a new rug. Sell your forehead, 

then the space between your thumb and index finger, 
the sweat in the bend 

of your left knee, the way you laughed once 
in a restaurant. Trade the extra air 

in a room for a song, sing it on the El and collect 
the sighs of unemployed plumbers. 

Trade the mortgage for a spoon. Invest in ant futures 
and spiritual developments. 

Bad Dreams

I went to the library but it wasn’t
a library, it was a gun room. I needed
a book so they gave me a purity
test. I asked for water and they brought
gasoline. But I walked here, I said. 
They wrote my name on a list.

I went to the hospital but it wasn’t
a hospital, it was a stockbroker. He said
oh yes, it’s an emergency, and gave me
a prospectus. He said you’ll be fine,
we’re moving your health into T-bills.

I was pregnant but it wasn’t a baby,
it was a forest and I was the little red 
hen. Who will help me plant the seed? 
I asked and asked. They were carving 
the trees into ladders for the rapture. 
Soon, they said, we will not need bread.

My Chair Period

I had no part in the distant shaping
of my parts, no choice in the wood,
the tufted fabrics. No voice in the naming
or selling of me, no mind to think
of my station. But look how pretty 
I am, back curved like a ship’s hull,
slender legs hoisting a honeyed
cushion into the air where so many
drunken gentlemen come to perch
and shout at the girls. When the house
is shut up for good no one wonders
about me, no one asks in a Christian 
way what can be done with me, so I
mold and darken in the damp air till
the insects find me and then fungi 
and then I am leached through tiny 
digestive systems till I am something 
other than chair, a new forming of parts
and purposes that will barely remember
later, in acids and ribosomes, just what 
I was in my chair period.  

In the New Space

The first one says I am in a writing group with Dante.
The second one says I like this wine it reminds me of Mars.
The sixth one says in my band we used to set ourselves on fire.

The pink one says I am writing a book-length poem about olives.
The third one says I’m sorry I will not discuss my bird problem.
The old one says the white-out key on typewriters was so useful.

The tall one says shhhhh, I am listening to my capillaries.
The tenth one says this is like that club that used to be a mailbox.
The dead one says oh how once we hunted in the sylvan forests.

The nude one says I have come so far to arrive at nothing.
The eighth one says the human ribcage is adapted for flight.
The next one says it has started to rain, and we need rain.

Mary Hawley’s work can be found in Notre Dame Review, qarrtsiluni, Bloomsbury Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, Hawaii Pacific Review, and Another Chicago Magazine among other places. Her collection of poems, Double Tongues, was published by Tia Chucha Press, and she co-translated the bilingual anthology Astillas de Luz/Shards of Light, also published by Tia Chucha Press.

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