Mary Carroll-Hackett 


The Story of Fire


starts without us seeing, our own small beginnings, a quick breath of dust, a clutch of tinder, the dry longing between almost and I want.

This we understand: the wanting. What is it of fire that we think we know? Ignition, chain reaction, flashpoint, convection, conflagration—destruction?

Burn me in, then out, of body, this slip of flesh and growth that so often feels like failure. Test us with that particular ache that tastes of lemon, the mystery of light singing its way down stringy muscles in our arms, the longing pull of thigh and back. In that flickering light, silence is worse than stumbling, the blood song in our own ears speaking of endings, and still we cling. Rebirth begins in the singing relief when we just let go, after so so long of holding on

to our small desires, that kiss, the one we remember, the tender longing of memory
between almost and I want
and gone.



The Correctness of Dandelions


leads to me to believe we are so much more stubborn than we think, our sweet green feet remembering the stuff we are really made of, the grassy river moving within us, soil and stick and stone solidified into scaffolded bone. Taproot and all, the call so deep we can’t resist, no matter how we try. We persist. We blossom.



Blame It On the Eclipse


this stepping back, this unprecedented move to where even the sun recedes from the mess we’re making, this bone-breaking anger, this plank in the eye blindness. We’re digging our own caves, hands like blades, despite the efforts of the first mothers, despite their pleas to us to see our brother our sister to see our own blood thrumming through every fist, every rock that breaks a window.



Rust Starts


with a single drop, a single tear tearing into, dissolving over, igniting that lightning, that chain process of keeping, and moving, and giving up. The anode completely liberated, making room for acid, that requisite corrosion, that breaking down, implosion, sacrificial in its surrender, having given up all that makes it so, into the larger flow, disappearing, swept away, into the nothing, into the everything of it all, into the salted snow beneath your tires, the rain trembling at the puddle’s rim, into the green voiced sea, the white frothed whisper, when it calls. Can you feel the beginning of fire? Even now, the giving in?



What We Confuse With Need


ragged as a paper bag, flimsy as that screendoor we keep slamming slamming slamming, jamming ourselves through until the heels of our hands bleed, still clawing after the gimme, what we think is need, is want. We make our own hearts round and wore down as boot soles, strolling again and again and again down paths paved with wish and fancy and lust. We burn up in our own rust, desire a constant creep, rationalized at every turn, that must that’s really yearn. If we could only cut back to need, weed out the this, the that, the have to have. We make it hard like that.





Mary Carroll-Hackett is the author of seven collections of poetry: The Real Politics of LipstickAnimal Soul, If We Could Know Our Bones, The Night I Heard Everything, Trailer Park Oracle, A Little Blood, A Little Rain, and Death for Beginners, released from Kelsey Books in October 2017. A new chapbook,(Un)Hinged, is due out in late 2018. Mary teaches in the Creative Writing programs at Longwood University and with the low-residency MFA faculty at West Virginia Wesleyan. Mary is currently at work on a novel.