F I R S T B O R N   F R O M   T H E   D E A D

​​H E R M E N E U T I C   C H A O S   J O U R N A L

B Y   M A R Y   B U C H I N G E R

Mary Buchinger is the author of Aerialist (Gold Wake, 2015, shortlisted for the May Swenson Poetry Award, the OSU Press/The Journal Wheeler Prize for Poetry and the Perugia Press Prize) and Roomful of Sparrows, (Finishing Line, 2008). Her poems have appeared in AGNI, DIAGRAM, Gargoyle, Nimrod, PANK, Salamander, Slice Magazine, The Cortland Review, The Massachusetts Review, and elsewhere; she was invited to read at the Library of Congress, received the Varoujan and Houghton Awards, multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominations, and placed First for the 2016 Charter Oak Award for Best Historical poem. She is co-President of the New England Poetry Club and Professor of English and Communication Studies at MCPHS University in Boston, Massachusetts; her website is www.MaryBuchinger.com. 

         is what St. Paul 
called Jesus  but 
I too am

but an ecstasy
made of webs 

filaments spanning 
a cold emptiness 
the I Thou I am 

always deciphering 
I yawp at the strange rocks 
holding everything up

measure what’s gone
crayoned fields 
broke-back barns

if we sought beauty 
we’d choose 

This the green gold 
time of tassling corn 
wheat stubble  beans to hoe  

and I miss hedgerows   
harbors of fox and pheasant 
gone now  plowed under 

but the straight flat road 
I grew up on    still 
marks the county line

still zigs at the corner 
where my grandparents lived
adjusting for the earth’s

curvature  and this is why I pray
the way I do   to reconcile to what 
is  to find  divine  in me  change 

Old woman calls the child 
to stand before her 
squeezes his shoulders
marvels and he blushes
All this—  he wonders  growing 
both smaller and into the squeeze—  

expectation and hope   
none of us imagined how 
little we could do   

the paper leaves 
my hand as I write   
graphite wasted 

is so much litter 
redundant as a maple 
I keep going 

Somehow each time 
I read ‘contentment’ 
as code for ‘sad’—

make each writer into my own image—
someday I’ll write about how 
Once upon a time 

all the music of the tundra— 
that cold-swelled earth
its slew of aurora— and so on

I open the door 
to a stillborn world  
apologizing to my offspring
This used-up space 
I’d meant to pick up a bit 
refill the cupboard

but turns out I gave birth 
to ants who will carry away 
the crumbs of the world 
learning cooperation 
and caste  so that is 
the she that is I 

sorry and ready 
to sacrifice something 
or someone 

No matter what  the reluctance 
to believe one’s child 
has a life of her own 

this true too of the world 
world that be beside 
not in me

In the end  I bury it 
I say Sorry love  sorry 
but it’s the day to day that sours 

My earliest memory:  being 
under the porch   slatted light  
toys in the halfdark  silty sand 

shuffle of feet overhead  
alone   the ones I love nearby 
Always looking for that place 

It’s lovely out there 
and changing   asking 
something of me  

word begging word 
order on the page 

minutes line up 
like walls in a hospital 
while out there 

the beautiful other—
Firstborn  I   must 
come to my senses