by Mary Szybist

ISBN: 9781882295371

Publisher Alice James Books

Published in Literature & Fiction/Poetry

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Sample Chapter

Chapter One


Pebbles, leaves, rain-they disappear into the river. Even the shadows of the black branches above (their bark peeling like thick burnt paper) disappear.

But we don't disappear: Not into the breeze: it brushes against the pale sides of our arms (rustle of dry leaf against wood, quick suckle of an inhale, cool shearing of cracks)-

Granted, this is not a world that keeps us.

Granted, there are some sadnesses in which I do not long for God.

Naked and Unashamed are Two Different Moments

If I were a classical nude, the distance between my breasts would be the same as the distance from my breasts to my navel, from my navel to the division of my legs.

I accuse myself of transgressing. What is it to drag a body through the lush anger of atonement!

Always in the arms of something, the god is always swaddled like the infant. The cloth on his hips. Sometimes I believe I am transgressing.

When I consider the body in the manger I feel it in my face: I must look the same way a hunter looks when he decides to take an animal he has never seen before.

What the World Is For

Before I started to love you, I tried to love the world:

the plump, dumb oranges that crushed in my mouth, the waves that rolled upshore

until they were eyelid thin and purple. And the girls who lined up to buy pops

in their small bright suits, the ones who slouched and let their sandy thighs and ankles

go unbrushed: tried to love them without seeming to, to watch

with an indifference I could wear. Afternoons, they leaned against each other

picking out shapes in the clouds. They weren't girls to throw their hair

before them, to dry it in the sun. Still, their hair dried in the sun.

You could tell it would be a long time before they would be bent

down to the kind of love from which they could not right themselves.

It was a long time before I saw the slivered moon is no scythe; it is not blade

or pool: we cannot see ourselves there. It is only from here that it changes,

looks small as a thumbnail, something to offer you

like the blonding shoreline, like myself. As if that is what the world is for.


Nothing subtle in it. The pink oleander pushing up, each cup a flushed petal mocking the skin on my neck. Red belladonna. Parade of violets like rows of girls being led in only their bonnets to a mirror.

I want to be stripped and scrubbed down the way one would scrub a dog. Then I want to be the dog: faithful, plain. Will I wear thin with vast summer? I imagine the disappearance of leaves, of my palms when they press against the parts of my body that blush. Faithful and plain and red belladonna.


Excerpted from "Granted" by Mary Szybist. Copyright © 2003 by Mary Szybist. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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