It Is As One Body

Mary Carroll-Hackett

for John Eaton

the heart breaks, and breaks, and lives by breaking. Stanley Kunitz

it is as one body we inhabit the past, that body learned first and fast in hot snaky rows of a cornfield, some other day and year, gone before here, when a smooth-skinned boy with square fingers and almond eyes slid his hands from breast to belt, centuries she'd known him—felt blood and limb—but time folded their way home, time, thinned and ridged and hollowed by song, knows better even than bone.

this body, its own history submissive even, made of bits trundled up from sand, all woman, all man, bending first into—then out, casting about, in search of itself, as whole—angled and sharp as the shade
of long-leaf pine—what time knows is that it loves

hard lives, those field scarred, hearts lined with pitch, that boy gone man in broke-sole boots, that girl gone woman, cotton skirt hitched to hip, a crescent scar cupping there the womb—sharing its dichotomies, its shape with the heart.

listen! you have what you need—
time giving and heated, left for you, circled, handed over with ceremony that knowing, skin knowing—that the soul flees not out—

but in—
when it finds its own again.

Mary Carroll-Hackett took the MFA in Literature and Writing from Bennington College in June 2003. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in more than a hundred journals including Carolina Quarterly, Clackamas Literary Review, Pedestal Magazine, The Potomac, Reed and The Prose-Poem Project. Her chapbook, The Real Politics of Lipstick, was recently named winner of the 2010 annual poetry competition by Slipstream. She currently directs Creative Writing at Longwood University in Farmville, VA where she founded and edits The Dos Passos Review, Briery Creek Press, and The Liam Rector First Book Prize for Poetry.