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Mary A. Koncel
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Books/Chapbooks 2

Received her BFA in poetry from Columbia College in Chicago and her MFA in English from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. In 1999, Quale Press published her chapbook, Close to Day. She was a recipient of a fellowship in poetry from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and her poems have have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Currently she is a writing instructor at Smith College and writing consultant for human service organizations. She lives in Worthington, MA, with her husband and many animals, small and large. Besides writing prose poetry and essays, she is an avid dressage rider.
 
 

Bless This Night
 
     It's almost like heaven out here. Ten miles of angel-pin turns, glittering blacktop, then a pair of straight yellow lines leading to sweet soul of opossum, twin spirits of skunks.
     Driving home, I think about Saint Francis, imagine him wandering through the woods, a flock of swallows buzzing his left eardrum, a racoon or two draped over his shoulder like a favorite cardigan. A tall, awkward man, he had hands with white palms and strong straight fingers.
     Out here, under these brooding stars and stark moon, animals are just as abundant. Cut loose from fur and body, they languish along the road: rabbits begin to hurry but stop in mid-air, a fox sniffs its blood, surprised by its cold, exquisite beauty, while tree frogs swallow deep, vaguely tasting the last sounds in their throats.
     "Keep still," Saint Francis would warn if he walked among these animals. "keep still." One hand pressed against his lips, the other held in blessing, he would stop at each one that raised its head and wanted more.
     I could stop. I could stop, drop to my knees, and hold out my hands like Saint Francis, tell these animals that they have been good, good and wild. It's time to surrender their hearts to me, their long and mournful howls, their hunger. Bless this night, this road and all that makes it heaven.
 
First published in the Massachusetts Review

Falling
 
     As Sister and Baby tumble from the window, they never thought poorly of Mother. Mother will catch us, they lipped to one another. Mother catches everything. Surely she'll be waiting, standing tiptoe, arms stretched wide for Sister and Baby.
     Coughing, the man on the tenth floor poured straight tea and spooned his oatmeal. Ask him and he'll swear he saw angels, wingless angels careening down, in red cartoon pajamas, even if it wasn't Christmas, wasn't late near midnight when any slow, unfolding shape can break from the sky.
     Make no mistake. Mother knew the difference between children and angels. Angels don't scream riddles. They don't scrape their heels or pound their empty bowls. Remembering, Mother looked down and twirled more hair against her cheek.
     But the man was so certain. On the tenth floor, between the roof and courtyard litter, he could expect falling clumps of begonias, the mute but ardent drift of season, pigeons fat and feathery as angels. "Goddamned pigeons," the man insisted to himself again. "Goddamned angels."
     Sister and Baby never opened their eyes, never saw Mother push back from the window. They fingered the air. Lovely air, thought Sister as Baby rocked gently above her, head over feet.
 
 
First published in Key Satch (EL)
    

When the Babies Read the Book of the Dead
 
     We can't stop them. We say, "Babies, don't turn the page." But they try to sound out every word, gum each corner until it's soft and sticky. We say, "Babies, look here---Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, a monarch butterfly wafting over a bed of red and white petunnias." The babies ignore us. They huddle together, drool across the cover. They like the pictures best---trees, man and shaggy dog together, the long, rocky trek against time. We try to distract the babies, tickle their cherry chins, but they're relentless. Their fingers, eyes, mouths, every bit of them so little but relentless. Sometimes we think the babies might not be ours. We could ask them, but we're afraid. The babies don't sleep at night. We hear them rocking upstairs beneath the crib, the book held between them like another prayer. We don't know who to tell.
 
First published in Tarpaulin Sky  

 
After the Weather
 
     Yesterday a man was sucked out of an airplane over the blue-tipped mountains of Bolivia. He didn't cry "emergency." He didn't buzz the stewardess. He just dropped his fork, opened his mouth, and let the wind gather him inch by inch.
     The other passengers agreed. This was real life, better than the movie or chicken salad. They leaned out of their seats, envying the man, arms and legs spread like a sheet, dicovering raw air and the breath of migrating angels.
     Below an old peasant woman beats her tortilla. She never dreamed that above her a man was losing his heart. Perhaps she was a barren woman, and, when he landed, she'd say, "Yes, this is my son, a little old and a little late, but still my son."
     And the man, he thought of wind and flocks of severed wings, then closed his eyes and arched himself again. He didn't understand. His head began to ache. He understood Buicks, red hair, the smell of day-old beer. But not these clouds, this new white sunlight, or the fate of a man from Sandusky Ohio.
 
 
First published in The Prose Poem: An International Journal

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