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  • Prove, and: Foal, and: After the Divorce, I Think of Something My Daughter Said about Mars, and: Talisman
  • Maggie Smith (bio)


I let a thought prove in my head overnight.In the morning I check to see what’s risen.

I try to expect nothing, which is exactlywhat I deserve. What kind of woman

demands her head deliver? But sometimesI wake to a thought doubled, tripled in size

and as good sour as anything grown in the dark. [End Page 161]


Now that I have no other heartto which I might apply my own,I polish my mind and polishand polish until its tarnishcomes off black on a soft cloth.My God, it’s filthy.There must be moregleam, I think, and I sleepso little for seeking it.

Now that I have no other bodyto which I might apply my own,I’m learning to use my bodyin new ways, ways I can use italone. I run new-foal-likethrough the neighborhood,then laugh, doubled over, rosy-exhausted when I’m done.I didn’t know my bodycould do that. If I saidI feel newer now, glisteninglike a just-born horse—and as awkward, as startled—could you see it?I mean, just look at me.

Now that I have no other mindto which I might apply my own,I polish it to near shining.Thoughts come awaycleaner and cleaner. [End Page 162]

If I lean in close enough,I can see my reflection.My large, frightened eyes. [End Page 163]

After the Divorce, I Think of Something My Daughter Said about Mars

Once you go, you can never come back.If you returned to Earth,

the gravity would turn your bonesto noodles. I mean your skeleton

would sort of melt. So if you go,you have to stay gone. [End Page 164]


They look like gifts a crow might bringa human girl, desperate to impress her.In the left pocket of my thrifted emerald coat:a scuffed acorn, a glassy black stone,one pink Mr. Potato Head ear.When I touch them, I can believealmost anything. Who’s to saythey can’t keep me safe? Who’s to saya bird can’t court someone’s daughter?But in this life it’s my son who showshis love like a creature that clever,leaving treasures for my fingersto worry against. I carry them likeanything I love—until they warm in my palm.Until I believe. Walking alone at night,the sky feathered blue-black and slowlyfolding over me, I pocket my left handand tell myself a story about my life,a story I call “Talisman,” a storythat might end well if I tell it right. [End Page 165]

Maggie Smith

maggie smith is the author of three award-winning books of poems, most recently Good Bones, and a collection of essays and quotes, Keep Moving: Notes on Loss, Creativity, and Change. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, the New York Times, and the Washington Post.