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Harrowing by Maggie Smith

by Maggie Smith

This world is harrowing, harrowing,
all harrow, as if harrow were what
the world is made of, what we are
made of, as if harrow were strings
to be strummed, tendons and veins
to be strummed, as if harrow
could be snapped between the teeth,
the word one letter from the white meal
inside our bones, the meal we could make
of ourselves, harrow, two letters
from the bird who might strum
with its beak what the body is made of,
what the world is made of, and in that
strumming become the song.

Good Bones by Maggie SmithSOURCE

This poem appeared in Good Bones by Maggie Smith, published by Tupelo Press, 2017. Shared here with deep gratitude.


“Good Bones, the collection that took the internet by storm in 2017, is a collection of modern poetry that speaks to the world we live in. Maggie Smith contemplates the past and our future, life and death, childhood and motherhood. She writes out of the experience of motherhood, inspired by watching her own children read the world like a book they’ve just opened, knowing nothing of the characters or plot. Smith takes in the dark world around her with a critical eye, always searching for the hidden goodness: compassion, empathy, honesty. “There is a light,” she tells us, “and the light is good.” Smith skillfully reveals the layers of the world around us through lyric language and vivid imagery: “For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird. / For every loved child, a child broken, bagged, / sunk in a lake.” These poems stare down darkness while cultivating and sustaining possibility and addressing a larger world. We come away from this collection hopeful about making the world a better place, a place to share with future generations. As Smith tells us in Good Bones, “This place could be beautiful, right? You could make this place beautiful.””


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Thank you for being here all these years—and into the future—as I hold poets to the light.

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