Mary Elizabeth Parker

                                Black Widow In Disguise | Amy Maloof

                                Black Widow In Disguise | Amy Maloof

Nights in the women’s shelter sings herself


This is the house
that I built; this is the stitch of
pulled wool from my white sweater
that glowed, back-lit by a single bulb

as she watched her face not seeing her face,
but whatever might lie behind it:
in the mirror in that abandoned
house safe among indifferent
red clay ringed by red fields,
red stalks in the fields that ring the lake
where fish, bellies flashing, glint white
in the effluent that spills them
to where the water sits flat at night
in coins like big purple Necco candies
fuming with mist
, down the road
from the farmhouse with red tin roof
where the old ones sat inside under rain
and waited for the fields they tilled
to spread green like the years which
fill the trees sad for that which
doesn’t stand: the big green metal
dragon riding-toy
in the side yard below the barn,
the boy dead or grown now.



Her drink spills, darkens dog-scrabbled clay,
opens the sluices a trickle, purling
into the faux lion's-head fountain
foreclosed on the neighboring property:
From the lion’s mouth: a feast of pale
flesh-colored lilies, roots tangling below water:
the floor of a blind woman's embroidery room,
brilliant threads roiled in a mass.

The terrible impuissance of objects

Midnight underpass wide-eyed beneath this coffin lid
her boy and she if she could just crook up a finger tap
the buried-alive bell release: impuissant objects’ power
of nostalgia: objects triggering concatenation firing backward
years: brain launching from the streetlight’s mere illuminative
glow clumsy leapfrog glancing, leaping off, glancing, leaping
off until (a car horn’s blat in snow) darkens down through every
disappointment to: sterility: Six a.m. still (not) sleeping
dreams huddled beneath Mama Suzanne’s white wool afghan
in brown wool trim crocheted by Mama Suzanne’s lost hands—
entire lost family warmed by this scrap generations generations
generations firing dendrites firecracker string poppoppoppop.
Nests in her pack Mama’s pearls and the wool sailed from Livorno
from whence Mama (black bead posited on wind like Mary Poppins)
landed otherwhere than here where she wielded her parapluie
in a shaking rage against taxis. Nothing stays. Wrapped in skin
streetlamp ignites in fits/starts can’t make it stop phhhttting.



Mary Elizabeth Parker’s essay “Combat Boots” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her poetry collections include THE SEX GIRL, Urthona Press, and four chapbooks: MISS HAVISHAM IN WINTER, FutureCycle Press; CAVE-GIRL, Finishing Line Press; BREATHING IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY, Paradise Press, and THAT STUMBLING RITUAL, Coraddi Publications, University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Her poems have appeared in journals including IOWA REVIEW, NOTRE DAME REVIEW, GETTYSBURG REVIEW, NEW LETTERS, ARTS & LETTERS, CONFRONTATION, MADISON REVIEW, PHOEBE, PASSAGES NORTH, and GREENSBORO REVIEW (nominated for a PUSHCART PRIZE); and in EARTH AND SOUL, an anthology published in English and Russian in the Kostroma region of Russia. She is creator and chair of the Dana Awards in the Novel, Short Fiction, and Poetry, offered since 1996.