Mary Cresswell

The Gift

Handing out names is old and deep:
the first thing they give you, the first to go.
There's faces and labels you meet in your sleep
but you just wake with faces. The names dig deep.

Names can be labels but labels come cheap:
What you see first is not what you know.
Handing out names is easy and deep:
the first thing they give you, the first to go.

Reunion with Chaos

I thrived. I lived
not completely alone, alone
but not completely, strangers
surging around me.
Louise Glück, 'Formaggio' in
Vita Nova

The sun followed me,
beloved and believed.
Each gentle touch
was much
the same
I thrived, I lived.

I lived for the earth
beneath me, the home
from which I came
as I grew straight
taller than the rest yet
not completely alone. Alone

within the worlds
I sensed the rearrangement
of time and space.
I recognised faces
some familiar and some,
but not completely, strangers

of whom I was a part.
Not destiny, cosmology
threw us in the mix:
new starts and drying wrecks
and what had always been
surging around me.


Mary Cresswell is from Los Angeles and lives on New Zealand's Kapiti Coast. She is a science editor who has gone over to the dark side and writes only poems now—her work is in journals in New Zealand, the US, Australia, the UK and Canada. Recent books: Fish Stories: Ghazals and glosas (Canterbury University Press) and Body Politic: Nature poems (The Cuba Press, Wellington).


Jane Blanchard
Barbara Lydecker Crane
Mary Cresswell
Barbara Crooker
Sarah-Jane Crowson
Claudia Gary
Julia Griffin
Mia Schilling Grogan
Kathryn Jacobs
Jen Karetnick
Jean L. Kreiling
Jenna Le
Kathleen McClung
Diane Lee Moomey
Leslie Schultz
Natalie Staples
Kathrine Varnes
Joyce Wilson
Marly Youmans


The latest addition to the Mezzo Cammin Women Poets Timeline Database is Rachel Wetzsteon by Patricia Behrens. The Poetry by the Sea Conference is scheduled next year from May 21-24.

Maureen Alsop:I often create visual art as a memorialization to the closure of a written work. However, many of these visual pieces arrived as a trajectory while writing a larger 'work-in-progress.' The text within the visual poems do not speak to the content of the larger work but are autonomous, acting as bridge between the written and visual bodies. The original text draws upon ghosts in the hall of battles. It is a glittering solar analemma, an unattested revolution, an infinity reflected in ellipses, omissions, and disintegration. A full collection representing many of these images came to fruition recently in Tender to Empress (Wet Cement Press). Yet the act of creating from text continues, as the digital collages here also include newer works based on miscellaneous notes, old emails, and most recently a short story, "The Unnamed Woman of Mary River" (forthcoming at South Dakota Review). The title to these are based on cargo ships which I pass on my daily commute from island to mainland. These small cities of people, afloat for weeks on end out at sea, are a looming story that embarks and disembarks in my imagination.

The visual poems are crafted under the mechanics of "Écriture Féminine," literally "women's writing." These principals advance a feminine perspective. I write from parallels, cyclical slips through stream of conscious and fragmentary processes. The writing exists as rough erotic. As talisman. Interpersonal in their ruptures and syntax, soft in their discomforts; a splintered narrative. Through writing, I can go anywhere and never be found.

32 Poems
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