Mary Cornish

Winner of the 2006 FIELD Poetry Prize

Paper $14.95
(ISBN 978-0932440310)

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"Because Mary Cornish owns a keen, loving eye and a susceptible heart, her poems can braid together sight and feeling so as to produce a delicacy rarely found in contemporary poetry. She takes us by the hand and leads us into rooms of wonder."
--Billy Collins

"Red Studio is a brilliant collection, even more so because it is the poet's first. In poem after poem there is a poignant intensity, often heightened by restraint, and every poem is filled with, as Mr. Stevens put it, 'ghostlier demarcations, keener sounds.'"
--Thomas Lux

"As the painters once used the broken yolks of eggs, the rocks, and the earth itself to make their colors, so Mary Cornish has made these miraculous poems: so intelligently wrought the page disappears, so gorgeous I stand and stare. At the core of each is human life, fiercely known and loved and endured. These are the poems of a radiantly alive adult woman."
--Marie Howe


The baker's body was found, spiced
with cloves and wrapped
in the lost lyrics of Sappho.
For years, he lay in the sand, her song
against his cheek: thin fire
runs like a thief through my body

A single feather drifts
out of the sky, but the rook flies on.

Not broken, not beyond repair,
but gone--the whole
that leaves behind a part, a city
humbled to its artifacts:
plate, doll, ring.

A tube of lipstick,
fallen from a boat,
rusts at the bottom of a lake--
even daylight crumbles
into sleep: its fragments bob and nod
to one another as they pass.

And figments of the night
linger during breakfast,
where the scent of China tea still clings
inside an empty pot.


One of the Shapes

These figs: meaning Eden over and over.
A paperwhite narcissus by the bed.
We lie on damp sheets, windows open to a garden
where, the quince blooms a fever of blooms, bares
its desire like breasts. The women who blackened
their teeth for beauty were not unlike the quince--
they gilded their lower lips, rouged the tips
of their tongues.

That shape, veiled, unveiled.
Skunk cabbage lifting its hooded spathe along
the water's edge: a foetid stink. And the rank smell
of a bitch fox on warm air. Tonight we'll hear her
yelping to be mated, a need sharp as those barks.
If I wash at my mirror, the shadow cast is vixen-like:
its movement disturbs the room. All March, her calling.

--Mary Cornish

Copyright c 2007 by Mary Cornish. May not be reproduced without permission.

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