Poetry - Issue 14 | February 2012

Two poems by Mary Kovaleski Byrnes

A Photo of Pennsylvania in Fiji

after Richard Hugo
You’re in the middle, row house with a low
slung porch. Daisy-print house dress, coal
bucket, cricket dusk, hair gray static.  Always
those mountains behind you,
where riddled veins map a deep
underworld, weave our history

in hard black ink. How they bleed
across the state, Appalachian sash
on a plain beauty queen who’ll never win.
With nightfall, your black-lung husband,
football and fistfights in brotherhood bars.
The Saturday church will heave with your wishes,

coins in a basket to the heathen abroad.
Winter waiting just behind the altar’s
Cyrillic promises. Where I am is winter, too—
a sultry season. The mountains sleep loudly, their guts
undisturbed. Children dressed in American t-shirts
cheer a soccer match on TV.

The players’ bodies twist and waver
in impossible contortions, dreamlike
with the fitful signal. Like this we reach
across the dateline and the waves—
antenna stretched to the top
of a strangler fig tree.

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About the author

Mary Kovaleski Byrnes lives in Arlington, Massachusetts, but doesn’t stay put for very long. She has worked in a restaurant in New Zealand, studied language and cooking in Italy, and has recently returned from a poetry translation project in Andalucía, Spain. You can find her poetry in Minnetonka Review, Poets & Artists, and Silk Road, or her travel writing on Boston.com’s Passport.

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