Karyna McGlynn 

-from the Sally Mann photo, 1989

Some game in the yard,
Virginia is on her back, denim straps
clutched, fist pulsing away
ghosts, wherever they are - pumpkin
king approaching all wrong
in his boots, feet turned backwards,
fished from the river in tin cans.
The scariest part: she can’t tell
his front from his back,
arms falling out of sexless jersey
like slinkys, unattached. A black dog,
tail a comma, paused in play -
about to vomit from too much
under-the-table turkey. Emmett
held back to his father’s knees,
watching, wading through
the tryptophan for his turn.
Her hair needs raking, soon
gathered off winter’s grass
and carried through the overcast
laundry lines and past the grim
nudity of roughhouse, games
with clothing please - it’s not
summer anymore. Squash trophy
squats without a victor to claim it
or a mother to clothe it, 42 pound
six month-old, skull scratched
past recognition.


Karyna McGlynn 

-from the Sally Man photo, 1986

Understand, from the curtains
dropping in orange and yellow,
fifty trained paper cranes.

You probably won’t remember -
petals bending acute
from their green feeding tube,

that I made this dress because
you wanted to swim among scallops,

that, for a moment, you both thought
this was somehow my fault, this
moving out of life.

Understand, from the paper clippings
I brought to rustle him up
in the breath of my reading voice,
I wanted to give more,

that, for a moment, his hand
was fat-knuckled and firm, grasping
anything you two touched,

that he was in the half-light
of those who refuse to get up
unless they’re allowed to go home.

Karyna McGlynn 

-from the Sally Mann photo, 1985

They did it for me.
I told the men to shoot him,
shoot ‘em dead,
and they did, white flag
tail stiffened in surrender,
broken horns and torn neck:
this is my deer, mirroring
my dark eyes, beetle eyes,
neck stretched out and over
the gate of the truck like
a dancer, tongue stuck out
the side of his mouth, so
his mother was right - you
keep making that face and
it’ll freeze that way. I have
torn my tutu to come
greet you in the gravel drive,
mud fouettés in celebration
of tonight’s hot venison,
slippers undone and tiptoe
stained in the overflow
of the blood bucket. It’s hard
to see with my hair cut into
a boy’s blonde bowl this way,
but I have that kind of power,
I have that kind of power.



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