Mary Biddinger

Have Mercy on Me

Our storage was so cold, and our time so ordinary, that often we dug holes in the hillside just to fill them up again.
But that was only a metaphor. The cool violence of your sweet talk. My red nightgown abandoned on the highway.
We played the eucharist game. It was disgusting, but delicious. Let’s say no strawberries will ever grow in certain
pockets of our house. Like malt liquor or a denim jacket concealing some. At first I wasn’t even sure you generated
blood pressure, your perfection and all. Thought you might transcend it. As a child I spent too much time gazing
at a hideous portrait on a dry cleaner’s back wall. Somebody painted her by numbers, but forgot that lips needed
a sliver of white to make them alive. She became the hideous dolly of your nightmare. I killed her with things
like gemstones, a rabbit’s foot dyed blue, or the longest knife imaginable tied to the second longest knife imaginable
and wrapped in some luxurious velvet. She’d never heard of me before. She did not hear me coming. I shoot
first, always, and think later. Consider the first time we saw each other. I said, lord, take your hands off me forever.

A Sunny Place with Adequate Water

More magnolias than you could ever count or would ever want to. We restrained ourselves as the bee entered one, only to be armied
by ants under every petal. Sometimes intervention is plain wrong. I wore no emblem on my clothing. You wore your leather
work gloves until they were as real as a stillborn calf, and only half as truthful. There should’ve been a law against
us marooned in an abandoned brewery. The irony of it. All of those vats, and empty aprons. I wouldn’t even wear one
for sport. You made me into the best lieutenant. I had a knack for it, my size, or else the way I never remembered the right
formula at the correct time. You thought we should be killing something by now, if only a mannequin leaning into a cardboard box
on the loading dock. I always had a soft spot in my skull, like it never fully closed, so I hated that dummy all the more. Might
we plant her like the bones of a lost ape, or seat her in the stadium after all fans had exited the gates? I would not let
you touch her. That was my designation. I had the gloves for it. Out of her spindles shot magnolias. There would be no resurrection.

Inert or Something Else

He who did not know the train from its whistle, who thought my body was hostile, if not a country in itself
ready for storming. Who held two sides of the earth apart, then together, because why not, they matched.
Two buildings faced each other but weren’t reflections. No water to the top floors, and no steam, ever.
That wasn’t where we lived. Our rooms were full of sunburn and the way you have to calculate
every inch of the body when under the suggestion of a siege. This is to say come on and open your eyes
already. At some point, what you do becomes something you don’t want to do. But don’t ask me. None
of that between my west and east. I’m only recounting things I’ve read. My mouth never has to open.
Sometimes the burn is so much more. Let’s live in it, or turn something into what it really wanted to be.