Prime Number Magazine
is a publication of 
Press 53
PO Box 30314,
Winston-Salem NC 27130
Tell a friend about this page
Issue 37, April-June 2013
Prime Number Magazine is a publication of Press 53, PO Box 30314, Winston-Salem, NC 27130
3 Poems
by Mercedes Lawry
followed by Q&A

Flattery of sky with birds.
Evening in pearl-pink, a slush
of maroon. I’ve invited a thief
to take me into his confidence.
I’ve stopped dancing and grown
weary as now and then the years
collapse. I prefer the stolen
blue hours, stray roots, the indication
of a small, hungry beast.

Earth (Quake)

This shake up, earth shifting, giving in
to swallow, is no betrayal, only a current
event of geology. Fraught dip and dive.
Under a membrane sky dented by alabaster light,
we’re left to scurry and decipher
the pell-mell of our bones now lashed
by gravity. Do we make up with the dirt,
paint our faces in some tribal lie
or wash ourselves over and over in dismay
at our location? Take a dozen gods
off the shelf before the shatter, no mind
those teary prayers. Plain face of fear
follows our steps, our crawl 
into corners in the slim night. We are
our own natural disaster, words chipped
and hollow like every other bit of debris.
We are the shimmy and the grab.
Last of the dancers on the perilous crust.
Victims of skewed latitude measuring 
our next timid step.

Deeper than perhaps you’ve been

Even the reckless would not cross the river,
sure there were bones lodged in the pools
below hovering fish. Thieves stole
the compass of an elderly man,
criss-cross scars on his rough cheeks, lugging
a sack of flayed memories, the blood cool now.
Joining those whose preference was the deep forest,
shadowed and moss-clung, a tick of wind high
where light was slowed and parceled.
The red fox and the stag, summoned not 
by the river’s fury or a dull moon, but the sweep
of late winter to green and glitter in webs
glassy with prismed dew. 

Mercedes Lawry has published poetry in such journals as Poetry, Rhino, Nimrod, Poetry East, The Saint Ann’s Review, and others. She’s also published fiction and humor as well as stories and poems for children. Among the honors she’s received are awards from the Seattle Arts Commission, Hugo House, and Artist Trust. She’s been a Jack Straw Writer, a Pushcart Prize nominee twice, and held a residency at Hedgebrook. Her chapbook, There are Crows in My Blood, was published by Pudding House Press in 2007 and another chapbook, Happy Darkness, was released by Finishing Line Press in 2011. She lives in Seattle. 


Q. I hear the forests of the Great Northwest in these poems, “shadowed and moss-clung.” What makes these forests, and the poems that rise from them, different from Eastern woodlands?

A. I grew up in Pa but have lived in the Northwest since the late ‘70s—when I often backpacked and found the mountains more dramatic, with a grandeur that eastern woodlands, which have their own wonderful beauty of course, didn’t quite have. I was lucky to come to Seattle before it became trendy and popular and one could still take day hikes and go camping in the mountains and be alone (or almost alone). I feel more mystery in NW forests, more secrets. 

Q. What kind of light fills your writing space?

A. Given that we experience a lot of gray skies and cloud cover, I am perhaps always searching for that break in the sky – the lighter shade, eventually the blue – I love the changing sky- light that comes and goes. One of my windows has a broad view of the evening sky which is often replete with color – the best time for sky-gazing.