Mary, with Swag

By ERICA DAWSON

I deserve a steed for this. This ride. The sex
that didn’t need bodies. No straining hip
craned nearly out its socket. Not one flex.
Seduction.

There’s a way to lick your lip
without moving your tongue. You have to get
down on your knees. Your hands will get dirty.
The rain on April grass is warm. Just let
it flick you.
I am only half of thirty
but my body had its way with me, much less
violent than you would think. A kind of shame.

Was there a change? Was I branded a new
woman? Was I a woman yet? Although I chew
myrrh now, the resin hot, I hold my stress
in both my shoulders. That, too, stayed the same.

 

[Purchase Issue 12 here.]

Erica Dawson is the author of two collections: The Small Blades Hurt, winner of the 2016 Poets’ Prize, and Big-Eyed Afraid, winner of the 2006 Anthony Hecht Prize. She is an associate professor of English and Writing at the University of Tampa, and director of UT’s low-residency MFA program in creative writing.

Mary, with Swag

Related Posts

Image of a statue of a woman wearing a dress in white against a beige background, cover of Ama Codjoe's poetry collection.

September 2022 Poetry Feature: Ama Codjoe—from BLUEST NUDE

AMA CODJOE
When my mother was pregnant, she drove / every night to the Gulf of Mexico. / Leaving her keys and a towel on the shore, / she waded into the surf. Floating / naked, on her back, turquoise waves / hemming her ears, she allowed / the water to do the carrying.

view of valley from mountain

August 2022 Poetry Feature: Nathan McClain—from PREVIOUSLY OWNED

NATHAN MCCLAIN
Had I not chosen to live there— / among the oaks and birches, / trees I’d only ever seen in poems / until then…spruce, pine, / among the jack-in-the-pulpit / (though I much preferred “lady slipper”) / the tiger lily, milkweed, the chickadee / and blue jay, even the pesky squirrel

Park Bench

Translation: Poems by Juan de Dios García

JUAN DE DIOS GARCÍA
He speaks to us of Finnish lakes, of a dialect populated by birds and fruit, of high wooded hills, perpetual snow, a petroleum sky. “In the north they’re raised on melancholy,” he says, “and their dead weigh more than those from here.” He speaks of a Greek father and a war.