the girl

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The Girl
Marie Howe
So close to the end of my childbearing life
without children

-if I could remember a day when I was utterly a girl
and not yet a woman-
but I don’t think there was a day like that for me.

When I look at the girl I was, dripping in her bathing suit,
or riding her bike, pumping hard down the newly paved street,

she wears the furtive look-
and even if I could go back in time to her as me, the age I am now

she would never come into my arms
without believing that I wanted something.

Photo (c) S Donaghy

sound before i saw

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The Copper Beech
Marie Howe
Immense, entirely itself,
it wore that yard like a dress,

with limbs low enough for me to enter it
and climb the crooked ladder to where

I could lean against the trunk and practice being alone.

One day, I heard the sound before I saw it, rain fell
darkening the sidewalk.

Sitting close to the center, not very high in the branches,
I heard it hitting the high leaves, and I was happy,

watching it happen without it happening to me.

Photo by SHAH Shah on Unsplash

by force

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Watching Television
Marie Howe
I didn’t want to look at the huge white egg the mother spider dragged
along behind her, attached to her abdomen, held off the ground,

bigger than her own head–
and inside it: hundreds of baby spiders feeding off the nest,

and in what seemed like the next minute,
spinning their own webs quickly and crazily,

bumping into each other’s and breaking them, then mending
and moving over, and soon they got it right:

each in his or her own circle and running around it.
And then they slept,

each in the center of a glistening thing: a red dot in ether.

Last night the moon was as big as a house at the end of the street,
a white frame house, and rising,

and I thought of a room it was shining in, right then,
a room I might live in and can’t imagine yet.

And this morning, I thought of a place on the ocean where no one is,
no boat, no fish jumping,

just sunlight gleaming on the water, humps of water that hardly break.

I have argued bitterly with the man I love, and for two days
we haven’t spoken.

We argued about one thing, but really it was another.
I keep finding myself standing by the front windows looking out at the
street

and the walk that leads to the front door of this building,
white, unbroken by footprints.

Anything I’ve ever tried to keep by force I’ve lost.