Back to Issue Twenty-Two.




Last time I sat at the sea’s open door
I was seven months pregnant,
my son bobbing inside me and the same
roar of waves there. What I love
about the sea is its relentless
newness, the constant turning over—
mornings gray-green, afternoons blue
and glassy, the horizon wearing
its ridiculous white ruff of clouds.
I am becoming my mother here
in a skirted one-piece swimsuit,
my thighs glistening scallop-white
and tender, spreading in the beach chair,
my kids digging broken shells
from the sand at my feet.
My daughter gasps to find one whole—
a common slipper, also called
a boat shell for its shape.
Something once lived there,
something slick and muscular, a tongue
clamped inside. Imagine if I could
wear my home and call it my body,
wear my body and call it home.



first thaw



You must think this house is the world,
the oven door a dark mirror

in which to learn your face.
We’ve been inside so long, you don’t know

a living thing when you see one
through the window: grackles

blacking the dead grass,
sycamores bone-white and eerily

double-jointed. I bundle you
to my chest and step outside, opening

the umbrella. This is the world:
a room that goes on and on—

no walls, no buckling plaster
or cracked ceiling. New as you are,

you aren’t the only novice here.
What I thought was a bird—

a large, low-flying white bird—
is a plastic bag. Even the rain knows

only one shape. Look,
it’s drawing circles on the puddles.


Maggie Smith’s most recent books are Good Bones (Tupelo Press, October 2017) and The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison (Tupelo Press, 2015), winner of the Dorset Prize. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in the New York Times, the Best American Poetry 2017, Ploughshares, AGNI, American Poetry Review, and elsewhere. Smith is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ohio Arts Council, and the Sustainable Arts Foundation. She lives in Ohio.

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