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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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