poetry quarterly

10th anniversary


Mary Ann Larkin

The following poem comes from gods & flesh, published by Plan B Press in 2006. The manuscript for this book came to us through a poetry contest submission. The reader told me that even if it didn't win the contest, I ought to give this manuscript another look. It's a reader I respect. So I listened to him and read the manuscript and decided to publish it. The book's cover, which Larkin insisted we use, reprints an image of a sculpture by Nancy Webb entitled Dea Mater. This chapbook, unfortunately, has sold out of its print run.



We had no future,
only sex
and tenderness, its blue flower.
That’s what we had
and it wasn’t enough
and it was. Bodies
with no future shine bright.
No words
only seed and flesh
cossetted and curved, belly
and skin and bone
on bone. We arced
in and out of ourselves,
earned no reprieve even as
tenderness flowered
in the sated crevices,
the limp arms and lidded eyes
of our exhaustion.
There was a sea.
It was summer.
It was dawn and noon and night.
It was a small white room.
It was ten days, maybe twelve.
That’s how it was.


Mary Ann Larkin is a poet, teacher, and writer—author of six books of poems, most recently That Deep and Steady Hum (Broadkill River Press, 2010). Her other books are chapbooks of poetry: The Coil of the Skin, White Clapboard, The DNA of the Heart (with her husband Patric Pepper), A Shimmering That Goes With Us, and her Plan B Press book, gods & flesh. Her poetry has appeared in scores of magazines and anthologies, including America in Poetry and Ireland in Poetry, the art and poetry series published by Harry N. Abrams,and Full Moon on K Street: Poems About Washington, DC, published by Plan B Press. She has earned her living as a writer, fundraiser and teacher, most recently at Howard University in Washington, DC where she lives. She was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


Published in Volume 11, Number 3, Summer 2010.


To read more by this author:
Mary Ann Larkin: DC Places Issue
Mary Ann Larkin: Museum Issue