Issue 20 – Spring 2011 – Mark Irwin

Mark Irwin



In the wilderness, with

great stairs of forests rising, she asked, “Are you still

innocent?” “Yes Momma, yes,

but only here,” I said, walking toward a clearing, a white

door lying in a field, the sun shining

on it, and the clouds puffing light over the grass never so green

and my body growing small with time.


Acquainted with the Green

Body, body, nobody. Supposing him

to be a gardener. In leaves, chrome

mirrors, outside, beyond the body full of

beginning. Now the light won. The tomb he

left like a wild animal its cage in spring.



inside a stone I’ve

carried all my life it’s

about the radiance,

fire in the eyes of every

animal moving among

woods in snow one

remembers arrows of green.




I was                                      approaching                                    I saw every

thing that once                    was I saw                                          her birth-

ing saw the                           infant crying                                    saw her

joy saw                                  him, father go                                  to work farther

each day                                saw him return saw                                 the baby grow

up the trees                          all this I saw                                     approaching saw

the boy go                             to school sometimes                                looking toward

me closer to                          him. Saw his mother                               grow older

saw his father                      buried, farther, saw taller                       trees saw

doors closing,                      growing too in                                  the house I was

approaching only                mother now tall and                                skinny the house

like a steeple I                      was getting                                       nearer the boy now

a man like                             me graying too                                          growing taller. We

were close. We                     were ready to. “Mark,                              how wonder-

ful,” she                                 said, but the house now                          a line was gone.



Mark Irwin is the author of six collections of poetry; the last three include White City (BOA, 2000), Bright Hunger (BOA, 2004), and Tall If (New Issues, 2008). Recognition for his work includes four Pushcart Prizes and fellowships from the Fulbright, Lilly, NEA, and Wurlitzer Foundations. He teaches in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Southern California.