Mary Elizabeth Parker 


The breaking sweetness of a candy jelly egg in the mouth, 
or the whole warm white shape of a boiled egg-- 
secrets that come undone 
against the tongue; the tongue a sleeping fish 
in the cave of the throat, waiting to rise to meet 

good things: slip-collars of ziti for the tongue's tip, 
red sauce that stings, bread, small bites 
torn off with white teeth, the ease of butter, 
melted pool against the palate-- 

the coin of the brain reserved for gusto coiled 
at the base of the skull like a sleeping pup, 
like dogs in sun sleeping, 
drinking only when the dish is held for them, 
their soft noses grazing a hand-- 

at night, mere shapes in air beneath the willow- 
the dogs a fluid line of fur, cafe au lait and muscle, 
every part grown up simply 
from the dark clay where their muzzles flurry 
scenting for grubs, buried wasps, the world beneath grass-- 

grass, white teeth tearing, freeing the gown of white root-- 
clay, grass, white teeth clamped on root, 
grass, water, black mouths working. 

Copyright 2000, Mary Elizabeth Parker 

Mary Elizabeth Parker's collection of poems, The Sex Girl, was released this Spring by Urthona Press as winner of the Second Urthona Poetry Award. She has two chapbooks: That Stumbling Ritual and Breathing in a Foreign Country. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in literature from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Of her work, a poem and an essay have been nominated for Pushcart prizes. She is creator and chair of the Dana Awards international literary competition. 

Switched-on Gutenberg/Vol. 4, No. 2