Mary Ann Samyn

West Virginia, or What Do You Want Me to Say?

The intelligence of sorrow, like any natural thing, isn’t mean.
The green dress, too, looked better untried; I was simply lost.
I study your face, which I love. And my own, less symmetrical, 
though more heartbreaking.  It takes time to speak to clarity; 
I’m at the perfect age.  The forsythia, the color of now
I get used to its comings and goings.  The river bend, too,
winds its own way, and your house beyond, your heart of hearts, 
as the saying goes, where everything must be imagined.


The Inner Life

Deer move through it, of course.
And every evening I cook dinner.
Without help, night comes to town.
Sometimes someone says something extraordinary.
The old pain and the current wonder exist.
Which art moment was it that changed everything?
And have you noticed: dog fur is one soft; cat, another.
My loveliness has taken some getting used to.
I stand to the side.
Very gently, I tell myself to sleep.


A Waiting Around Feeling

A few pennies beneath the hydrangea—
no explanation—and dewy cobwebs on the grass.
All morning, the fog agrees with the valley:
some things are not mine to know. 

Evening, I walk to be alone and see
just the squirrel’s tail now and its leathery back feet.
Then deer, two does, one who is fine with looking.
Sometimes I too am tired of my defenses.


A Story for Another Time

Cinematic snow and, at the party, an M of garland;
glitter on the tablecloths and on our hands, 
a little of the mystery made less so.
For a while, my whole heart went with me.
Now, it burrows again, as it mostly always has. 
The new year is not the occasion but will be, soon.
I put on the coat you like. I drive myself home.


Where to Start

I struggle and stop; struggle and stop.
Narratives advance the ridge of maybe.
The slightest shift is the hardest to sense.
The moods of others and my own.
Everyone wants to know how much snow.
Someone wants me to say something profound.
This is no time to lose heart.
Evening walks I look up and out.
The sun sets where I hadn’t imagined.
I am troubled by something not yet named.

Mary Ann Samyn’s most recent book is My Life in Heaven, winner of the 2012 FIELD Prize. She is Professor of English and Director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing at West Virginia University.