Issue 5 – Winter 2003 – Pattie McCarthy

Pattie McCarthy

fionn : a pearl on your eye

there is a space large
enough if you make
yourself very
small. a glass hour,
noon—smells of sleep
& summer & breath. scorched bright.
the floodgate I see you
through or do not.
most that increases is needless, given
a light surface, growing thin,
given the skin with which
to touch. blood has a life
expectancy of 2 months, woe unto you,
poor bella—your hair will become
the shoes of your father’s enemies.



a pearl on your eye : you are
a finely made thing. when it begins
to snow harder—trees, houses, other
objects seem to recede into the distance.
it’s a trick, this shift from a blank
white to witness : a diacritical mark,
an accent slip in emphasis.

this is how it should begin in a glass hour.
you are putting 2 words
together fair-haired & floodgated.
this is how it should begin in coarse
grass cut away & set alight, a prefix
fixed & finely made.


from alibi (that is : elsewhere)

the name by which she entered
history is not how she would have referred to herself.
cras, cras—the crow’s
call understood as optimism‹ tomorrow.
tomorrow, all our accumulated throbbings
may be exhausted. melancholic & atlantic
as opposed to sanguine & pacific—
I have the honor to be &c.,
at its edges, the continent
appears to become a solid in the space
between sounds & the curious
darkness between birds. from a distance
one may become convinced of this—



if you turn left
here it is the end of earth—a more
solid earth you put your foot
down with a satisfying sound.
a scraggy field separated by another
scraggy field with over a thousand
given names— small, crooked, oddly
sequenced, loosely interpreted
rectangles. & inside those rectangles, shapes of a domestic sort, the shape of gravity—
roofless things, their gables sharp. lapsing into the fantastic or romantic a failure thus 
exhibited, the thin mimicry of it. taller, walls crossed without knocking stones loose
                                  this     monu
                                  mnt  erectd
                                  by  his  wyf



it is our duty to doubt
we are obligated to a certain skepticism
we still say the air
is better here. we take overly dramatic
deep breaths as proof. the air here
: vegetable in quality & bigger. at night
it is darker & resists
suspicion in its very healthful spookiness.
I have no will to disprove this.
the air is autumnal, sheeogy & we’ve become
familiar & snobbish enough to profess to only
loving the place in winter, in inclement greyest weather.
it consoles us with the fiction that there might
be something still unknown here.



the faded marks, a revenant of an arch
that once led to an anchoress’ cell—
a wall there now, but outside
the wall in the grass a cracked
long stone where here she lived & died.
where we are currently
wintering, there is no excess of granite.
the effects of wind
& rain & centuries (of filthy weather) of devoted
or merely curious hands on the carved beakheads—
or the finger labyrinth set in the wall.
also a recessed slotted box—it says 50p.



Pattie McCarthy ‘s bk of (h)rs was published in 2002 by Apogee Press. The poem “alibi (that is : elsewhere)” is from her recently completed manuscript: Verso, and “fionn” is from the in-progress booklength poem: Table Alphabetical of Hard WordsVerso is forthcoming from Apogee Press in 2004. She currently teaches at Towson University in Baltimore.