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About this poet

Lucia Perillo was born in 1958 and grew up in the New York City area. She received her BA from McGill University in Montreal, where she studied wildlife management, and her MA from Syracuse University. She is the author of several collections of poetry, including The Body Mutinies (Purdue University Press, 1996), which won the Kate Tufts Discovery Award; Inseminating the Elephant (Copper Canyon Press, 2011), which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; and Time Will Clean the Carcass Bones: Selected and New Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 2016). Publishers Weekly described her poems as "blunt, graphic, and written in a strangely graceful matter-of-fact tone." She received many awards and honors for her poetry, including the MacArthur Foundation's "Genius" Award in 2000. She taught at St. Martin's College, Southern Illinois University, Syracuse University, and in the Warren Wilson MFA program. In 1988, Perillo was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She died at her home in Olympia, Washington, on October 16, 2016. 

To The Field Of Scotch Broom That Will Be Buried By The New Wing Of The Mall

Half costume jewel, half parasite, you stood
swaying to the music of cash registers in the distance
while a helicopter chewed the linings
of the clouds above the clear-cuts.
And I forgave the pollen count
while cabbage moths teased up my hair
before your flowers fell apart when they
turned into seeds. How resigned you were
to your oblivion, unlistening to the cumuli
as they swept past. And soon those gusts
will mill you, when the backhoe comes
to dredge your roots, but that is not
what most impends, as the chopper descends
to the hospital roof so that somebody's heart
can be massaged back into its old habits.

Mine went a little haywire
at the crest of the road, on whose other side
you lay in blossom.
As if your purpose were to defibrillate me
with a thousand electrodes,
one volt each.

From On the Spectrum of Possible Deaths by Lucia Perillo. Copyright © 2012 by Lucia Perillo. Reprinted with permission of Copper Canyon Press. All rights reserved.

From On the Spectrum of Possible Deaths by Lucia Perillo. Copyright © 2012 by Lucia Perillo. Reprinted with permission of Copper Canyon Press. All rights reserved.

Lucia Perillo

Lucia Perillo was born in 1958 and grew up in the New York City area. She received her BA from McGill University in Montreal where she studied wildlife management, and her MA from Syracuse University. She is the author of multiple collections of poetry, including Time Will Clean the Carcass Bones: Selected and New Poems ​(Copper Canyon Press, 2016).