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By Joanie Mackowski

I don’t know how it happened, but I fell—   
and I was immense, one dislocated arm   
wedged between two buildings. I felt some ribs   
had broken, perhaps a broken neck, too;   
I couldn’t speak. My dress caught bunched   
about my thighs, and where my glasses shattered   
there’d spread something like a seacoast, or maybe   
it was a port. Where my hair tangled with power lines   
I felt a hot puddle of blood.   
                                                   I must have passed out,   
but when I woke, a crew of about fifty   
was building a winding stairway beside my breast   
and buttressing a platform on my sternum.   
I heard, as through cotton, the noise of hammers,   
circular saws, laughter, and some radio   
droning songs about love. Out the corner   
of one eye (I could open one eye a bit) I saw   
my pocketbook, its contents scattered, my lipstick’s   
toppled silo glinting out of reach.   
And then, waving a tiny flashlight, a man   
entered my ear. I felt his boots sloshing   
the blood trickling there. He never came out.   
So some went looking, with flares, dogs, dynamite   
even: they burst my middle ear and found   
my skull, its cavern crammed with dark matter   
like a cross between a fungus and a cloud.   
They never found his body, though. And they never   
found or tried to find an explanation,   
I think, for me; they didn’t seem to need one.   
Even now my legs subdue that dangerous   
sea, the water bright enough to cut   
the skin, where a lighthouse, perched on the tip   
of my great toe, each eight seconds rolls   
another flawless pearl across the waves.   
It keeps most ships from wrecking against my feet.   
On clear days, people stand beside the light;   
they watch the waves’ blue heads slip up and down   
and scan for landmarks on the facing shore.

Source: Poetry

  • Living
  • Nature

Poet Bio

Joanie Mackowski
A teacher at the university level for many years, Joanie Mackowski has worked as a French translator, a journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area, and a juggler. She currently teaches at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Her poetry is marked by precise details and attention to the sounds of language; the lines of her poems echo with slant and internal rhymes. Sometimes eerie and often grounded in scientific facts, her poetry scrutinizes insects, plants, animals, and the self. See More By This Poet

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