2 poems by Pam O’Shaughnessy

Tasting the Blade
during the time of the babies
before the return of the large hadron collider
when my arms were full of you
the day lay quiet and blue
we took naps
the hours before lunch

were thirteen billion
each witnessing
our slow movements as if we’d last
into afternoon and you’d be forever new
lifting the spoon like a spoon
has never been lifted before

as if joy is eternal discovery
pushing forward into time and mass

at the stores of women you hid
behind the racks at noon the clocks held
still noon even after the ice-cream
still noon at the kindergarten door

I was a ewe raising my head
to see again the noon the lamb the grass
the grass the lamb the unending noon
look look you’d say and I’d look lazily
stroking your soft hair
at the daylit moon a slip showing


We’re walking in the park, your hag astride you, mine riding me.

Our harnesses are quite different. My hag clings close like I’m a fast motorcycle. Yours uses velvet ropes.

Your hag carries a cell phone and calls you almost every day. My hag communicates only with arcane symbols. I’m never sure what she wants from me, but I always know her mood. It may be that all she wants is to be carried. She spoons me at night and stays on my back when I get up in the morning. Your hag jumped off your back for a few months, but now I see she’s back.

Sometimes in the mirror I get a glimpse of her. She doesn’t smile.

In the city it’s rare to see a passerby with no hag. Some have a couple of them hanging precariously off their necks. Hags are heavy—we’re all bent down.

I could not get along without my hag now. I’m never lonely. It doesn’t matter that she doesn’t like me much. At one time I had ambitions for my hag—she seemed special, unusual—but others might not see these qualities in her; she’s my hag, not theirs.

My hag has red hair. She’s a handsome fire-hag. Yours has a wavery watery quality. I love my hag, but she’ll never love me, it’s not the way of hags.

I can barely see your hag and you don’t even know about mine. Yet we both carry them—our hags.

Pamela O’Shaughnessy

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