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About this poet

Claire McQuerry is the author Lacemakers (Southern Illinois University Press, 2012), winner of the 2010 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award. She teaches at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania.

Stratigraphy

Take what’s unearthed—copper, bone
needle, silver coins—as evidence of continuous
human presence. Such puzzling
detritus and handiwork: this bronze 
ear pick etched with fine cross-hatch or that 
female figurine of painted clay, “meaning 
unknown,” striped and small enough 
a child’s hand could enclose it. They look as if
laid aside yesterday, tokens of commerce
or devotion. Bronze stem of a mirror, 
pottery shards which conceal a partial 
story: the hands of Paris presenting the apple 
to Aphrodite. Another unknown woman 
flanks the goddess, but only her feet 
and robes remain. How much is unrecoverable,
how much surmised. Dig until you find 
a comb, further down an amphora’s handle, 
a seal. Here’s sign of fire, here 
erosion, here time
piling its jewels and ash, spreading
its quilts over the dead.
 

Copyright © 2014 by Claire McQuerry. “Stratigraphy” originally appeared in Steel Toe Review. Reprinted with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2014 by Claire McQuerry. “Stratigraphy” originally appeared in Steel Toe Review. Reprinted with permission of the author.

Claire McQuerry

Claire McQuerry

Claire McQuerry is the author Lacemakers (Southern Illinois University Press, 2012), winner of the 2010 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award. She teaches at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania.

by this poet

poem
Now the wire is bare; now it's sheathed 
in blackbirds, a magic that undoes me 
every time: how they alight or rise 
like iron filings drawn by a magnet. 
What purpose to this synchronous eruption
 
but beauty? And yet, beneath such wonder,
poem
a life loan, the right blue dream
home, the ownership you deserve,
 
the industry to preserve. The providers help
you want it. We mortgage you “yes” and flex-
 
best-ible. One proud customer at a time.
That’s American wisdom: easier,