Sunday, April 26, 2009

Mary, Mary

I saw Mary Karr, a few years back, when she did a reading at Fordham University and gave a little talk on...memory? (If I remember correctly) I enjoyed her Southern accent, her straight-talking and swearing, her honesty about her faith. I bought a book of her poems and near-swooned over her word-smithing as I read on the subway.

I gave one of her memoirs a try, but just couldn't get through it. Oh well. It was when I was trying to get through it one Sunday afternoon at a Starbucks, book in hand but eager for a distraction, that I first met my dear Scrabble-playing friend. So don't let me say Mary Karr never gave me nothin'.

And now let me give you somethin' - one of my favorites from Ms. Karr:

Disgracelandby Mary Karr
Before my first communion, I clung to doubt
as Satan spider-like stalked
the orb of dark surrounding Eden

for a wormhole into paradise.
God had formed me from gel in my mother’s womb,
injected by my dad’s smart shoot.

They swapped sighs until
I came, smaller than a bite of burger.
Quietly, I grew till my lungs were done

then the Lord sailed a soul
like a lit arrow to inhabit me.
Maybe that piercing

made me howl at birth,
or the masked creatures whose scalpel
cut a lightning bolt to free me.

I was hoisted by the heels and swatted, fed
and hauled around. Time-lapse photos show
my fingers grow past crayon outlines,

my feet come to fill spike heels.
Eventually, I lurched out
to kiss the wrong mouths, get stewed,

and sulk around. Christ always stood
to one side with a glass of water.
I swatted the sap away.

When my thirst got great enough to ask,
a clear stream welled up inside,
some jade wave buoyed me forward,

and I found myself upright
in the instant, with a garden
inside my own ribs aflourish.

There, the arbor leafs.
The vines push out plump grapes.
You are loved, someone said. Take that

and eat it.

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