Flesh | Literary Arts | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

A child, I would rip wings off bumblebees
and cry, surprised, when stung. Baking soda

poultices clotted my fingertips, but I ran outside
and kept at it until I felt my hands hurt

more than the pleasure I had in destroying
what was helpless within my grasp.

Now, barefoot, I avoid clover and pull down
my shirtsleeves when I go outside. The closest

I get to bees is watching them swarm the lilac
outside of my closed kitchen window. At ten,

I ran in a fireball of games, baseball
diamond to swimming pool, heedless

of what I hated: a girl down the street,
a neighbor’s dog. A cruelty possessed me

I wish would tear into my flesh again,
spring up like a wound fresh-torn and flowing,

yielding a heartlessness which says tomorrow,
you are ready for tomorrow, just by being alive.

— Michelle Maher


Michelle Maher lives in Wexford and teaches English at La Roche College. Her poetry has been published in journals such as Atlanta Review and The Georgetown Review. Many writers featured in Chapter & Verse are guests of Prosody, produced by Jan Beatty and Ellen Wadey. Prosody airs every Saturday at 6:30 a.m. on 90.5 FM.

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