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Mary Ann Honaker


Mary Ann Honaker is the author of It Will Happen Like This (YesNo Press, 2015) and Becoming Persephone (Third Lung Press, 2019). Her work has appeared in Calamus Journal, Drunk Monkeys, Euphony, Juked, Little Patuxent Review, Off the Coast,, Van Gogh’s Ear, and elsewhere, and has been nominated for a Pushcart prize. Mary Ann holds an MFA in creative writing from Lesley University. She currently lives in Beaver, West Virginia.


Why didn’t we celebrate holidays?
Anniversaries? Birthdays?
I’d tell myself we were too broke

but that wasn’t the whole story.
Life had us locked in. Work
cored us like apples

then handed us back to poverty
the minute we walked out the door,
drove a bald-tired, decades old car

to the apartment with mice
in the walls and windows so cheap
when the wind coughed over the water

it spat damp cold
directly into our rooms.
The ceiling leaked.

We didn’t even bother to report
the cave-in of the bathroom wall. Perhaps
we thought it was what we deserved.

We were spiraling. I called myself
the reverse princess: from riches
to rags. You scowled, silent.

It’s hard to bear that weight,
when you give it your all
and society tells you

you haven’t done enough
to be considered halfway human.
Remember when we were lost

in Marblehead and the man
we asked for directions
refused to look at us?

He kept yammering to his friend,
ignoring the car stopped right beside him,
and you shouting, “Sir? Sir? We’re lost.”

Ink Sketch of a Whale, With Tears

Zippered into hoodies
against the chilly spray,
my husband and I clung
to the slick handrail.

The pod of whales swam
abreast of the ship, kept pace.
Perhaps they liked the breaking
open of a human face in joy,

all those little pearls lined up.
Their vastness must be felt–
just as you can’t capture awe
or depth in photos shot

from mountaintop. Surrounded
by sure and jocular intelligence,
we watched whales lift scarred tails
as we ran bow to stern, starboard

to port in scraggly gaggles,
just to view their backs arched
close to the spumy surface.
My husband, child-curious,

innervate, open as a buttercup,
made no attempt to be studious,
stern. He knew adulthood
a contrivance, had no use for it.

A photo of him seems as past-tense
as a monotone ink sketch of a whale.
Flattened like a fern fossil in shale,
there’s something lost, a miracle

made commonplace, too often
retold. Soon these beasts will mist
into the mythic, fogged over
by a scrim of years.

The people will say: once, I hear,
you were married. Once giants
frolicked in brine, and the ocean floor
bloomed like flowered fields in May.

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