Poetry - Issue 16 | October 2012

Two Poems by Laurie Byro


There is no mirror in Jerusalem.

Before my mother had a hole cut into her belly,
before she got the cancer that hissed and snaked

through her insides, I told her about Mary who

was a beggar I had met on the streets of Jerusalem
all those years before. Mary, sometimes

as she was able, apprenticed to stitch doe-skinned

cloths that held coins off her neck. She had hundreds
of soft pouches filled with talisman stones, or crumbled

frankincense. Mary, long before my mother, had a wound.

She would open her robes and allow strangers to put
their fingers into her bloody pouch. It made me think of sin

or something.  My mother slyly told me, her Mary

was different. That the Mary I met had been crazy with Jesus,
wild-eyed but not holy. Mom said Mary was probably not

a virgin, and definitely not anyone’s mother. She may

have been the heavenly hostess of coin-filled pouches,
in God we trust. This was Thanksgiving in 1989. Tonight,

when the night concentrates on its breathing, when the stars

listen to hear if there is a moral to my story, I have no Mother
to tell it to, no wounded mother to argue with. I want to

say it straight. There are no stories in Jerusalem worth saving,

no souvenirs worth keeping. All the mirrors have gone
to rust. These stories, I so urgently tell, are the new old lies.

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About the author

Laurie Byro’s short stories and poetry draw on myth, fairytale and her experiences of foreign places in the years she worked as a travel agent. Published widely in literary journals such as Autumn Sky Poetry, Loch Raven Review, and Stirring, her work has been featured on The Guardian’s online workshop and has placed favorably in the Interboard Poetry Competitions. Laurie is head of circulation at a library in New Jersey where she facilitates a poetry circle.


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