Mary Makofske

In the Braille Garden    

Not where this language grew, but where each bed
is full of flowers notable for scent:
Heliotrope, fringed iris, hyacinth,
but not the rose whose fangs would be a threat

to those unwarned by sight. Touch is allowed;
winged twigs of burning bush, furred leaves of lamb’s
ears and the peonies’ silk petals crowd
forward like cats starved for attention.

Each plant is labeled with a metal plate.
Because a few whole leaves are snipped, the black
words rough as bark must urge the blind to Taste
the lemon balm and mint. I’d like to ask

What is this bush, this vine with scarlet blooms?
My blind hands stumble on their coded names.


from World Enough, and Time (Kelsay, 2017)


Mary Makofske’s latest book is World Enough, and Time (Kelsay, 2017). Her book Traction (Ashland, 2011) won the Richard Snyder Prize judged by David Wojahn. She is also the author of The Disappearance of Gargoyles and Eating Nasturtiums, winner of a Flume Press chapbook competition. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, Southern Poetry Review, Poetry East, Asheville Poetry Review, Poetry Daily, Calyx, Earth’s Daughters, and other journals and in eighteen anthologies. She received the International Poetry Prize from Atlanta Review and 2nd place and two honorable mentions in the Paterson Literary Review Allen Ginsberg Awards.

Why does poetry matter? A few weeks ago, I fractured my arm and was in pain. Suddenly poetry began flitting through my head, lines I had once memorized but thought I’d forgotten. A nurse of words, a poultice of rhythm. Poetry matters because it speaks to us beyond the jabber of the everyday. Because it enables those of us who write it to delve below the surface, discovering what we did not know. And, as Dickenson said, because it is “my letter to the World / that never wrote to Me.”