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About this poet

Gail Mazur is the author of Figures in a Landscape (University of Chicago Press, 2011), Zeppo’s First Wife: New & Selected Poems (University of Chicago Press, 2005), which won the 2006 Massachusetts Book Award, and They Can’t Take That Away from Me (University of Chicago Press, 2001), among others. She is the Distinguished Writer in Residence at Emerson College and the founding director of the Blacksmith House Poetry Series. Mazur splits her time between Cambridge and Provincetown, Massachusetts.

Dear Migraine,

Gail Mazur

You're the shadow shadow lurking in me
and the lunatic light waiting in that shadow.
 
Ghostwriter of my half-life, intention's ambush 
I can't prepare for, ruthless whammy 
 
you have me ogling a blinding sun, 
my right eye naked even with both lids closed—
 
glowering sun, unerring navigator 
around this darkened room, you're my laser probe, 
 
I'm your unwilling wavelength, 
I can never transcend your modus operandi,
 
I've given up trying to outsmart you,
and the new thinking says I didn't invent you—
 
whatever you were to me I've outgrown,
I don't need you, but you're tenacity embodied,
 
tightening my skull, my temple, like plastic wrap. 
Many times, I've traveled to a dry climate
 
that wouldn't pander to you, as if the great map
of America's deserts held the key to a pain-free future, 
 
but you were an encroaching line in the sand, 
then you were the sand.  We've spent the best years
 
of my life intertwined: wherever I land 
you entrap me in the unraveled faces
 
of panhandlers, their features my features—
you, little death I won't stop for, little death 
 
luring me across your footbridge to the other side, 
oblivion's anodyne. Soon—I can't know where or when—
 
we'll dance ache to ache again on my life's fragments,
one part abandoned, the other abundance—

Copyright © 2011 by Gail Mazur. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2011 by Gail Mazur. Used with permission of the author.

Gail Mazur

Gail Mazur

Gail Mazur is the author of Figures in a Landscape (University of Chicago Press, 2011), Zeppo’s First Wife: New & Selected Poems (University of Chicago Press, 2005), which won the 2006 Massachusetts Book Award, and They Can’t Take That Away from Me (University of Chicago Press, 2001), among others.

by this poet

poem
Sometimes she's Confucian-- 
resolute in privation. . . .

Each day, more immobile, 
hip not mending, legs swollen;

still she carries her grief 
with a hard steadiness.

Twelve years uncompanioned, 
there's no point longing for

what can't return. This morning, 
she tells me, she found a robin

hunched