Lily Poetry Review: The Body Dialogues by Miriam O’Neal


The Body Dialogues

Poetry Collection


  Birth Day
 Already missing the weight of her lade,
 she becomes an empty crib.
 The burden of making
 replaced by empty space.
 If she is lucky
 the child slides 
 like a christened ship,
 to waiting waters
 and loosed like the bottle’s  
 broken neck, her body pours
 what’s left
 into attending hands.
 Gender Studies
 When he is four my son tells me
 he’s had a past life.
 I was a dresser, he reports.
 And I had 3 drawers.
 And if one of my drawers was open
 I was female.
 And when all my drawers were closed
 I was male.
 He doesn’t say what this means,
 seems to think it’s all been explained.
The only time 
 my father fell into my arms
 was the morning my mother died
 He was old testament—the only man 
 in a room full of women, in a house full of broken.
 As I gathered him up he cried,
 I never thought I wouldn’t go first.
 then sagged back toward the couch
 where my sisters caught him and sat him down.
 On the phone the undertaker asked,
 how soon do you want to see the body?
 while the ham my mother had baked the night before
 laid the taste of mustard and brown sugar on our tongues. 

About the Author

Miriam O’Neal’s first collection of poems, We Start With What We’re Given, was published by Kelsay Books in 2018. She is a 2019 Pushcart Prize nominee and was named a Notable Poet for the 2018 Disquiet Literary Prize. Her translation of Italian poet, Alda Merini’s, Poema della Croce, was recognized in 2007, by the American Literary Translators Association (ALTA). Her poems and reviews have appeared in AGNI, Blackbird Journal, North Dakota Quarterly, Passager Journal, Southern Poetry Review, and elsewhere. She lives in Plymouth, Massachusetts.