Three Poems

By Mary Stone Dockery

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The Meaning of More

We stack glass jars in the hallway,
fill them with fireflies and nails.
From the bed, we discover
walls move like water.
The blanket is a psychic’s tongue
draped across our legs.
What is more but what we can’t
really touch, your body sliding
down the shower wall,
where you end up when you
are gone. Spaces left
unstirred down my back.
You can bury me in your mattress
and dig me out later in loose threads
unstitching music notes,
the cigarette-glow
of need. We are objects
just like the things we keep
stored in attics and boxes,
these lonely trinkets, bed sheets.
Keep the pillows from long ago,
your lovers’ names sketched
inside each one, languages
of dead petals, wild pearls.
This bed shifts continuously,
a palm cupping us
over a waiting pool
where everything rises.


Sister undresses all over the page. My tongue bites back, pressing. No, I want to say. Stop. Imagine what it’s like to find a sister with gravel in her knees and a baby coyote running off into the woods. We went hiking so often the rocks knew our names. In the morning, she will not remember how many times we dragged her to the bathtub, sprayed her with cold water. What movie had we seen this in? Lately, we are afraid of peroxide, the neat prick of a needle. One more day giving plasma and we’ll have enough money to fill the ashtrays again. We think of filtering stardust in our bones. Sister jumps into my mouth like she is a sieve. We are in this together, I think. She will come up and breathe. At night, swimming, she takes off her top and wears it as a scarf. My friends want to discuss her nipples. I can only imagine what dark clouds she treads above, what her feet just barely graze.


The girl wants to be flung into words, dragged through sentences, asked to crunch walnuts with long fingers and to scrape shell wounds across the shock of a period, across broken stanzas, where her body expands and is visible for the public, where her body lives within a language that cuts against her shins, her thighs, her fingers, without access to paper, without rocks, without the meaning of roses or concrete lashings, but where her body expands until the sentence blurs beneath oil and pretends to sleep, eyes closed, carrying the corpse that was once the girl’s body, because while growing between stanzas or between letters or between words, the girl’s body becomes crackling paper and then sun-drenched scales and then grows green self-cleaning claws and tree tongues in places that are not mouths, tongues that flicker in branches then fizzle out in pink wicks, and the girl, whose body is carried by the sentences of others, uses her tongues to revise where her legs and her arms and her thighs have touched, lets wounds show in big purple streaks, lets her legs scissor and grease punctuation surrounding her, while vowels become balloons and all the white paper surrounding all of our bodies tears wet with helium, forgets that it once held a blue or even bluer sky.

Mary Stone Dockery