My Mary Karr “LIT” Favorites

Any way I tell this story is a lie.

Such a small, pure object a poem could be, made of nothing but air, a tiny string of letters, maybe small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. But it could blow everybody’s head off.

Ten years, she’s dead, and I still find myself some mornings reaching for the phone to call her. She could no more be gone than gravity or the moon.

Good days, I see myself in others, and I know—in my bone marrow—nothing we truly love is ever lost, no matter what form it assumes.

There’s a space at the bottom of an exhale, a little hitch between taking in and letting out that’s a perfect zero you can go into. There’s a rest point between the heart muscle’s close and open – an instant of keenest living when you’re momentarily dead. You can rest there.

What hurts so bad about youth isn’t the actual butt whippings the world delivers. It’s the stupid hopes playacting like certainties.

My head thinks it can kill me… and go on living without me.

… for it feels as if I was made – from all the possible shapes a human might take – not to prove myself worthy but to refine the worth I’m formed from, acknowledge it, own it, spend it on others.

The most savage scars didn’t come from pain. Pain has belief in it. Pain is required; suffering is optional.

I wanted to believe in quality the way I had as a kid, when a great poem could flood me with certainty that there was something good in this world. Or somebody out there knew who I was even if we’d never met— or never would meet.


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