Mary Ann Samyn

Boundary Theory

Inside the choice, a big racket, hedge of sound:

the mother's day cards all lined up:

some with bears in vests and dresses,

some with glitter and music. . . (thank you. STOP. thank you.)

Back home, a tear in the screen like a mouth.

A small pod of something on the windowsill.

Had it lived, briefly?

The smug Easter basket has made it this far,

synthetic grass and hollow eggs opening

to other hollow eggs.

The past oozes: the opening so small

only my baby finger fits through. . .

In the dream, A. (as she calls herself) in a blue sleeveless shirt

I would wear (I tell her, smoothing the collar) and her face

from when I loved her in that patch of kitchen sun.

. . . this is where I have most of my compassion:

from a distance where it does no good.

Drawing a Blank

Starting with the boot. Vase in the shape of. A gift.

(Starting by looking around the room--)

This is what women wore. Quaint and pinchy in the toes.

Laced up and up, etc.



Starting by not starting there again.

Starting with proficiency, which I reject.

"As long as I've known you, you've been ready for the next thing!"

a friend e-mails.


Starting with the found space, the template.

Put your numbers here, ladies: groceries, market, ice, dairy, water,

coal, lights, gas, bakery, laundry, cleaning, drugs, physician, clothing, hardware, garage, insurance, furniture, rent. Total.

Starting with January, 1929, filling it in.


Starting with theoretically I could and once upon a blank blank . . .


Starting with his questions:

Do you flinch from the blankness? No.

Do you flinch from the blankness? No.

Why do you flinch from the blankness?


Even in the midst of the almost-starting, not-starting.

For instance, when evening came (starting earlier and earlier each night)

though nothing had been accomplished. . .

Mary Ann Samyn is the author of Captivity Narrative, winner of the 1999 Ohio State UP/THE JOURNAL Award, and Inside the Yellow Dress, a 2001 Green Rose selection from New Issues Press. She teaches in the MFA program at West Virginia University.