The CSS Awards - Site of the Day

Corpus Christi

Mary Kovaleski Byrnes




We think of bodies.

How with all this rain,

all this water in the air,

we can feel our skin breathing

on damp sheets.

We want to feel only our bodies today.

The rainwater curls the pages

of our passports into lotus flowers,

gives us away--

twists our hair into question marks

above our heads.



Outside our slatted window, a procession

rings a discord of bells, a tide

of young girls in communion dresses

laced white as ocean foam.

They carry their faith in pieces,

arms full of ginger lilies,

hymnals leather-bound and worn,

their voices declaring:

only through me can two become one.

Offerings for the idea

that a body is not a body,

bread is not bread,

an island is not an island.



At dusk on the shore,

the celebrations begin.

Even the dulled honeymooners

blaze like bonfires.

Fisherman emerge from the sea like gods,

a bounty multiplying on shore.

When we think of their nets,

we think of our bodies.

In the fast-fading light

they begin to mend them, prevent

more life from slipping

through their fingers.





Mary Kovaleski Byrnes' poetry and travel narratives have appeared in numerous literary journals, including the Minnetonka Review, the Squaw Valley Review, Poets & Artists, Silk Road, and Boston Globe's Passport.  She is a lecturer in the First Year Writing Program at Emerson College where she received her MFA in Creative Writing. She lives in Cambridge, MA.

A perfectly healthy sentence, it is true, is extremely rare. For the most part we miss the hue and fragrance of the thought; as if we could be satisfied with the dews of the morning or evening without their colors, or the heavens without their azure. - Henry David Thoreau


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