My top three (OK, four) literary finds of 2013: Mary Szybist (poet), George Saunders (Tenth of December), Dani Shapiro (Still Writing), and rediscovering Steinbeck (East of Eden). All of these writers have provided me insight and encouragement in their own way, and I am grateful for their talent and excellent work. I am sure you’ve heard of the others, but just in case you haven’t heard of Mary Szybist, check out her poem below (or, better yet, listen to her reading it here — I think you’re going to love it!)
Wishing everyone a Happy and Healthy New Year!
On Wanting to Tell [ ] about a Girl Eating Fish Eyes
By Mary Szybist
—how her loose curls float
above each silver fish as she leans in
to pluck its eyes—
You died just hours ago.
Not suddenly, no.
You’d been dying so long
nothing looked like itself: from your window,
fishermen swirled sequins;
fishnets entangled the moon.
Now the dark rain
looks like dark rain. Only the wine
shimmers with candlelight. I refill the glasses
and we raise a toast to you
as so and so’s daughter—elfin, jittery as a sparrow—
slides into another lap
to eat another pair of slippery eyes
with her soft fingers, fingers rosier each time,
for being chewed a little.
If only I could go to you, revive you.
You must be a little alive still.
I’d like to put this girl in your lap.
She’s almost feverishly warm and she weighs
hardly anything. I want to show you how
she relishes each eye, to show you
her greed for them.
She is placing one on her tongue,
bright as a polished coin—
What do they taste like? I ask.
Twisting in my lap, she leans back
sleepily. They taste like eyes, she says.
Source: Poetry (November 2008).