Maggie Smith is the author of four books, most recently Good Bones (Tupelo Press, 2017) and the forthcoming Keep Moving: Notes on Loss, Creativity, and Change (One Signal/Simon & Schuster, 2020). Her poems and essays have appeared in the New York Times, Tin House, Poetry, The Believer, The New Yorker, the Washington Post, and the Paris Review. Maggie is a freelance writer and editor, is on the faculty of Spalding University’s MFA program, and serves as an Editor-at-Large for the Kenyon Review.
The sun comes up, and soon
the you-know-what will hit the you-know-what.
But this is what it means to have our life.
We need a break from this ruined country.
Sometimes it feels like it has just begun and it’s over.
What we know of ourselves
gets compressed, layered. Remembering
is an anniversary; every minute, a commemoration
of being, or thinking—or its opposite,
a strip of negatives.
Some days, I don’t even know how to be.
I sink my feet past time in the Olentangy
as if loneliness didn't make us
in some absurd blessing. —If there even is an us.
When are we most ourselves, and when the least?
Is it too late except to say too late and hear
the whole world take a rain check?
I worry it is.
I was hoping the world would earn you,
but it rains and rains, too busy raining
to win you over. Child, I count ten
rivulets shining down the bedroom wall.
Let’s pretend we’re on a boat at sea
and watch the neighbor’s magnolia trees
pitching through the porthole. The leaves
slosh and thrash against the glass.
Some days I think, What have I gotten us into?
This tearstained wall and constant
dripping into buckets, the mold a wild
black shadow. Child, I promise you
the rain will stop. Let’s read another chapter
in the book about the kingdom of crows.
It has to stop. Let’s count as high as we can
while I braid your bath-damp hair.
At the End of My Marriage,
I Think of Something My Daughter Said About Trees
When a tree is cut down, the sky’s like
finally, and rushes in.
Even when you trim a tree,
the sky fills in before the branch
hits the ground. It colors the space blue
because now it can.
Ohio Cento: the American Poetry Review
Porthole: Crab Creek Review
At the End of My Marriage, I Think of Something My Daughter
Said About Trees: Iron Horse Literary Review