Poetry by Mary Mackey

The Kama Sutra of Kindness: Position No. 2

should I greet you
as if
we had merely eaten
together one night
when the white birches
dripped wet
and lightning etched
black trees on your walls?

it is not love
I am asking

love comes from years
of breathing
skin to skin
tangled in each other's dreams
until each night
weaves another thread
in the same web
of blood and sleep

and I have only
passed through you quickly
like light
and you have only
surrounded me suddenly
like flame

the lake is cold
the snows are sudden
the wild cherry bends
and winter's a burden

in your hand I feel
spring burn in the bud.

Copyright, Mary Mackey 1987
From "The Dear Dance of Eros"

NET Surfing 2:00 A.M.

in the great invisible electronic
library of the world
the real thing is nothing
image is all

bleary with coffee
and grief for a friend
who died the day before
I find myself staring at the screen and wondering
how many pixels it takes
to make a wood duck
or an island of black frigate birds
mating in the mangroves
their globed orange throat pouches
pulsing with birdly lust

in front of me
in a space no larger than two hands spanned
I can watch flocks of pink flamingos
stick-legged, silly-beaked
bits of egg-laying confetti
left over from the big party
of creation

there's a comfort to the sight
of so many birds. Here at least,
I think,
life out-runs extinction

once in Cambridge
in the Peabody Museum
I came across the last passenger pigeon
ever sighted in America
neatly stuffed
with combed feathers and agate eyes
sitting on a fake limb in a glass case
under a card which informed me
that it had been shot
by the Harvard expedition of 1893

once I read
that Audubon himself
killed to sketch

in front of me
electronic snow geese
by the thousands
swirl over the marshes
of the Central Valley
now in one night
I can see
more cranes and herons
than ever fled south
before the snows of winter

I touch the screen with my fingertips
taste it with my tongue
how cold this tiny window is
that drugs me with perpetual flight
on tapes and chips and CD-ROM
the programmers have recreated paradise
and yet . . .

I pause, consider, and decide:
I strike a key
I click the mouse
I let myself forget
the crossed out phone number
the returned mail
the name he no longer answers to
the silent woods
the long darkness
the quiet


Copyright, Mary Mackey 1998
For Mary Mackey's most recent collection of poetry see

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