Mary Bush

If I could describe it, I would say a touch
of numb, a nerve asleep, the cool burn
of absence, a breath that does not reach the skin. 

It is hard to grasp a pen, and yet I write: the scrawl
of branches. And yet, I see the pomegranate sun–
despite the eyelid’s slack and constant weeping. 

How long before I sit placid as the slump–
shouldered hay, my sharp ends bound
and unable to prick the bare flesh of summer?

Will I be left to memorize the world?
For now, I tell the corner of my mouth to rise,
slow as the moon over barbed wire.


After the telescope “Kepler,” launched March 2009 to search for terrestrial planets,

It is squat: a brute force eye.  Thuggish god,
shoved deep into space and left to circle

the farthest star field, unbothered by Earth’s
elegant ellipse.  Tethered to the sun, 

no moving parts except short wheels and gears
struck to thrust its heavy trunk up and down,

photometer blinking at stars too far
away to see more than their blur, their glow.

Invisible mass; only steady waves
of light that roll across the universe

like tides.  What made you look up at the edge
of the night surf, walking alone, the cold

a sweet relief from your baby daughters’
fevered cries, their souls already trembling

at the edge of flesh and about to pass.
You look up, the harsh wind would blur your eyes,

the moon calm above silvered clouds roiling
with the winter storm and the small angry

whitecaps fussy as your daughters’ tiny
red fists, clenching and then failing to clench,

cresting and then falling under the moon’s
gaze.  Later, clear-eyed, weeks from the day your

daughters’ bodies, at last cool, were washed, wrapped
and given final kisses, you drew a

breath, put pen to paper under noon sun,
wrote: if the earth ceased to attract waters

of the sea, the seas would rise and flow to
the moon.  The eye can only see star light

but must stare fiercely, always wide open,
spinning around the sun, never able

to sleep, measuring waves refracted to
numerical strings.  Strange hieroglyphics

to mark the passing of giants, planets
intuited by the shadows they place

on their own suns.  You imagined the year
of Christ’s birth, thought, how can a child not mark

a father’s orbit? This is how we might
know him: by the shadow across his light.

Mary Bush is a native Texan, living in the small town of Celina, Texas, married with three kids. Day job: project manager for a big IT company. Real job: finishing my PhD in creative writing at University of North Texas.

“Front Porch memory: I’m perched on a rickety Adirondack chair, green paint flaking off onto my bare legs. My grandmother is shelling pecans and listening to her police band radio while I push a needle through the doll dress I’m sewing. My mother comes up the sidewalk fresh from the beauty school, her hair impossibly bouffant, cat’s eye glasses glinting in the summer sun, smiling.”