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About this poet

Mary Szybist is the author of Incarnadine (Graywolf Press, 2013), winner of the 2013 National Book Award for Poetry, and Granted (Alice James Books, 2003), winner of the 2003 Beatrice Hawley Award from Alice James Books and the 2004 Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award. She is also the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rona Jaffe Foundation, and the Witter Bynner Foundation. She teaches at Lewis & Clark College and lives in Portland, Oregon.

In Tennessee I Found a Firefly

Mary Szybist

Flashing in the grass; the mouth of a spider clung
     to the dark of it: the legs of the spider
held the tucked wings close,
     held the abdomen still in the midst of calling
with thrusts of phosphorescent light--

When I am tired of being human, I try to remember
     the two stuck together like burrs. I try to place them
central in my mind where everything else must
     surround them, must see the burr and the barb of them.
There is courtship, and there is hunger. I suppose
     there are grips from which even angels cannot fly.
Even imagined ones. Luciferin, luciferase.
     When I am tired of only touching,
I have my mouth to try to tell you
     what, in your arms, is not erased.

From Granted by Mary Szybist. Copyright © 2003 by Mary Szybist. Reprinted by permission of Alice James Books. All rights reserved.

From Granted by Mary Szybist. Copyright © 2003 by Mary Szybist. Reprinted by permission of Alice James Books. All rights reserved.

Mary Szybist

Mary Szybist is the author of Incarnadine (Graywolf Press, 2013), winner of the 2013 National Book Award for Poetry, and Granted (Alice James Books, 2003), winner of the 2003 Beatrice Hawley Award from Alice James Books and the 2004 Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award.