Five Poems

Matador, Matador

Somewhere other than here we 
all said yes to the question Will you 
go back again   Yes   See the broad 
nose of the bull pawing at dirt for being 
so dense   Yes   There’s the rider who next 
time will be born a bull   There’s the frantic
calf alone in the pen with no way out the rider
with his precision and his rope his fringe 
slapping leather who   Yes   next time will be born 
a bull   The tranquil horse breathes steady in his 
stall who   Yes   in the next life he might 
not know what to do with his own freedom

How to Turn Into a Mountain

Begin. Turn your face into a peak, 
the kind of peak passengers 

see on the descent and think: Ahh, yes. 
There is my mountain. Spread your 

skirts far and wide. Love other mountains 
with the whole of your body and only

your body. Pull the hardest parts 
down deep into your center. 

Pack it in, one trouble on top of the next
until things stratify and give way and fold in 

upon themselves. Petrify dinosaur bones. 
Sing constantly. Lead pine trees and boulders 

through stairwell to your room while the others 
sleep. Let the heat build. Wake to the applause 

of deciduous trees. You'll feel a melting in your 
belly. Matter will wash away. Things will begin 

to expose themselves. Let the years of rain and 
grit get to you. Let children be the first to find 

fossils. There could be diamonds. There could be 
dynamite. It's best to know these things. 

Eventually, there will be a wave that says, 
Relax. Or, Push. Or, Explode. The animals 

will have taken leave. There's no use in anything but 
surrender. You only have to learn this once.


Once, tossing catfish in flour, you told me 
the difference is that the Eucharist 
and wine are god and the church 
is a manmade stack of limestone cubes 
with some disintegrating mortar holding it 

After you died, you were both
here and not. You were there in the 
clink of the chalice on the chain, 
the puff of flour settling on the cutting
board, in an albescent flag iris rising
from under unseasonal snow. 

A grain farmer, friend of my father’s, died 
once, drowned on chaff in a silo of wheat, 
and came back. He said it feels like
putting on a pair of muddy overalls,
rustling back in that old body before dawn, 
cold floor, frozen door lock, chores to do.

I Let Her Out Into the Growing Light

Round she goes in the grass crisp with frost. 
Her breath a nebula, her mind, an imploding
galaxy in reverse. At age two, each moment 
becomes a permanent protostar: The roughness 
of the cat’s tongue. The taste of butter 
licked from a plate. The scent of the fat 
mushroom on an Aspen stump. She hears her
sister sing songs, then sings.

She opens her hand and presents a gift: 
a pill bug makes its way to the tip of her finger, 

Warmth as From a Hearth

after Antonio Machado's poem "Last Night as I was Sleeping" 

So this is what the heart 
feels like at middle age.  

It is a moonless night. 

Opposite from here
people rise, brighten, 
move through streets. 

The day-moon carries on 
without remark.

Here, the faint 
reflection of the naked 
broadleaf in the rain barrel—

MARY HARPIN is a poet, freelance content marketing writer and the Director of Research Initiatives at Pen Parentis. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Crab Creek Review, Juked, Terrain, Tinderbox, and elsewhere. She is at work on a nonfiction project about the lives of writers who are also parents. Read more at 
The Adirondack Review