Things that Pierce

Corinne Wohlford Mason

After the Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon 

The way a child explains 
the rules of a thing to me. Handwriting 
from another century. The smell of eucalyptus.
What a place could have been. 

A picture of myself, at seven, in  
my school sweatshirt, pencil in hand,  
curved over homework, proving 
my seriousness. An ancient seafloor. 

My mother started a diary every January
and never made it to the second month. The hands of
someone I used to love. The Martian  
wood of the petrified forest.  

Musical revelers on Good Friday  
spilling through the tight streets of  
Granada. Dogs. Selfies. My grandmother’s 
collection of tiny spoons. 

Exodusters in Kansas. The app that lets 
me track any flight in the world. Hope. 
A gravestone reading our boy, 
covered in moss. How such strange parades  

march through our sleep, and how  
we make a story of it.  
Flying. Teeth.  
Our nakedness.

Corinne Wohlford Mason

teaches US history, culture studies, and writing at Fontbonne University in St. Louis, where she also chairs the department of humanities. She holds an MFA in poetry from Washington University and a PhD in American studies from St. Louis University. Her poems have appeared in Harvard Review, New Ohio Review, Pleiades, Southern Indiana Review, Hawaii Pacific Review, Georgetown Review, the Grolier Poetry Prize Annual, and elsewhere.

Art: “The First” by Nicoline Franziska, Oil on canvas

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