About this poet

Maureen N. McClane is the author of the poetry collections This Blue (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), a finalist for the 2014 National Book Award in poetry; World Enough (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010); and Same Life (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008); as well as the hybrid book of memoir and criticism My Poets (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012), which was a finalist for the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award in Autobiography. She is a professor of English at New York University.

Populating Heaven

Maureen N. McLane
         If we belonged 
to the dead, if we had our own
Egyptian culture of care—
the amulets of home entombed
for solace everywhere—
would we then have found
a better way to cast beyond
the merely given earth?
         If you want to follow me
you'd better leave your plaid
suitcase and makeup kit
behind.  I hope you won't
mind the narrow corridor;
the air in the chamber's
thinned out.  In this dark
I think my life's an old hinge
creaking in silence.
         Open the door
and you'll see the creatures
I imagined while you were waiting:
the green-eyed dog upright
on his throne, the winged lion,
the woman whose third eye
brightens the room.
She's the grinding lapis to paint
the veins of her breast.
Her nipples are coated with gold.
         It's true they rarely speak
but you're welcome
to ask their names.
Most days they lie
and dream among the harps.

They suffice
for themselves, neither
giving nor receiving.

See how they wither
in the momentary glance, 
turn to dust on the
steps we climbed
to get here.  

From Same Life by Maureen McLane. Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. Copyright © 2008 by Maureen McLane. All rights reserved.

From Same Life by Maureen McLane. Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. Copyright © 2008 by Maureen McLane. All rights reserved.

Maureen N. McLane

Maureen N. McClane is the author of the poetry collections This Blue (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), a finalist for the 2014 National Book Award in poetry; World Enough (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010); and Same Life (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008); as well as the hybrid book of memoir and criticism My Poets (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012), which was a finalist for the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award in Autobiography. She is a professor of English at New York University.

by this poet

poem

They were not kidding
when they said they were blinded
by a vision of love.

It was not just a manner
of speaking or feeling
though it’s hard to say

how the dead
really felt harder
even than knowing the living.

You are so opaque
to me your brief

poem
Again the white blanket 			
icicles pierce.
The fierce teeth
of steel-framed snowshoes
bite the trail open.
Where the hardwoods stand
and rarely bend
the wind blows hard
an explosion of snow
like flour dusting
the baker in a shop
long since shuttered.
In this our post-shame century
we will reclaim
the old nouns
poem
and if
I were to say

I love you and
I do love you

and I say it
now and again

and again
would you say

parataxis
would you see

the world revolves
anew

its axis
you