Mary Lou Buschi, Until the Sea

It Invariably Precedes

Owning the right equipment is important.
Knots also matter.
Moisten the line
before snugging it in.

What I really mean is
I want the good life.

Skitter and drop retrieve methods
question your ability to control.

Grab the sky and crush
it into a small blue nest?

If you are trying to
to follow the contour of the coast
stay at the right depth.

If you want to bite the sun
open wide.
Feel it yolk. Feel it melt,
then radiate, radiate, radiate.

Lesson Plan

A bee between 2 sunlit panes,
squirrels hyper in the dry leaves.

As we cleave to one another,
I know we have accepted death,

too tired to outrun it, surpass it,
transcend it, but we might,

so as not to lose hope
we tug at the nasty rattle

that we know will one day hook around
and sink its sharp teeth into our skin

and as that bite swells and the venom
spreads neither one of us will be able to

move or speak. But who will need words then?
Not us.



Girl 2
Let’s play a game: mother in a blanket, stiff as a board.
Pretend to hold her in your arms, slide her out to your fingers.

Girl 1
She is looking ill.

Girl 2
She’s looking worse.

Girl 1
She is dying.

Girl 2
She is dead.


The girls withdraw their fingers,
tiny snapped twigs.

The mother held there,
little ash cloud
no breath, no heartbeat.

Girl 2
Her death painless,
like a liquid skating down her throat.

Girl 1
She went quick,
without sentiment.


No one wintering here.
No one waiting to be born.


Girl 1
The girls traveled through forests filled with bramble that caught on their hair and sliced small nicks on their arms and cheeks / until the sea / where they coaxed the mother into bewilderment / She walked to the edge of the tide / watching foam bubbles pop / When the girls rushed out a wave / she tried to catch the small breath paths / down into that wild pit of fear where there is no sight.


Girl 1
The bride wore Italian lace
sewn into interlocked stars.

Each night she entered through the bedroom window,
six flights up, glided like an exhale into the kitchen
and jumped to her death.

Girl 2
No, not jumped, pushed. She was pushed.
Tell it right.

Girl 1
The earthborn children suffered for it: sweats, fever,
blue limbs weighing into water,
as the mother washed them down.

The children slept foot to cheek in a single bed,
while the mother sat upright, night after night,
skin so pallid as she kept watch.

Girl 2
But the mother meant to fix it all back.
She packed the bedclothes, closed the shades,
smoothed their hair, tied their shoes,
put her arms around them just in time
to diagnose the heart—
Unrelenting tick: Hope. Hope. Hope.


Girl 2
I’ve lost sight of
the way.

Girl 1
Way? We haven’t moved an inch
in all of our lives.

Girl 2
How many have there been?

Girl 1




Mary Lou Buschi’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Laurel Review, The Chestnut Review, Radar, and Midway Journal, among others. Mary Lou has written 3 chapbooks and 2 collections. Paddock, her 2nd collection (from which poems I-IV are taken), will be published in March 2021 by Lily Poetry Review.

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