Even now the ground is slowly shifting
beneath your feet. Even now
zones of weakness are building
behind your back, ready to crack
into fractures. Even now pressures
may exceed the power of rocks
to resist. Think of it:
thousands of faults lace this region.
You live inside a ring of fire
where walls can loom up overnight.
Forces in this landscape
are trying to rearrange your world.
You stand here feeling
you can control nothing,
at any second it is you
who may be heaved up,
and broken.

Copyright Mary Crow. Reprinted from I Have Tasted the Apple, BOA Editions, Ltd., 1996. Included in the anthology The Forgotten Language: Contemporary American Poets and Nature, ed. Christopher Merrill, University of Iowa Press, 2002.


My body stirs in several directions
when you talk so fast to me,
your hand tapping my shoulder,
your arm circling me for a moment
as you gesture and argue,
and I can feel the emptiness
of my body's dark
where I can't locate my heart.

My body has become light--
sky above half wind, half rain--
then anxiety jerks my attention away--
oh, to care again! To love till it hurts!
Till I'm broken!
Only you to put me together again.
I love the sound of my name
in the wind of your voice,
your body a wall to shelter me,
desire billowing up in the blank space
of your sudden stillness.
You're so full of me!
And what beyond us are the stars saying?
Are the tombstones tipping upright
in Prague's ancient ghetto?

Copyright Mary Crow 2003


Gene Autry galloping hard on his pony,
in black and white, the ground and bushes gray,
toward gray mountains under a gray sky
where white clouds drift, hooves pounding
in the small theater as I sat forward
in my seat, my heart in my mouth with envy,
with longing for freedom, for Gene Autry,
the boy beside me sliding his hand over
for mine, the odor of popcorn in place

of sagebrush, and I saw myself inside
that movie, black hat on my head while
I rushed after him, my pony dapple-gray,
my hair long and blown back by the wind,
galloping so hard but upright western style,
a real cowgirl, and the hand in the theater
like some kind of insect I was brushing away,

my body wanting to rush after my mind-
away from that kid in his button-down shirt,
away from the white clapboard houses,
the dark deciduous forest on the edges
of town, the asphalt, the street lights,
and my father forbidding me to go
to the movie while I sobbed, sobbed
for love of Gene Autry, for love
of the wide open west, of horses
and galloping, for love, for love.

Copyright Mary Crow. Reprinted from I Have Tasted the Apple, BOA Editions, Ltd., 1996. Read by Garrison Keillor on National Public Radio's "The Writer's Almanac."

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