Self-Portrait as Semiramis

Mary-Kim Arnold

Had I been raised by doveswouldn’t I have learnedto flyBy wolvesto hunt in packsHad I been raised by godswouldn’t I toobe godlikeIn the movies the orphanis the killernot loved enoughunwantedBut wasn’t Imost                    wantedMy motherfish goddessdove into the seafor the sin of lovinga mortal manI love a mortal man tooAt night I coax himfrom sleeprousing himwith my mouthBy daywe build high brick wallsaround us                        our BabylonHad my mother livedto see me rise from this boundlessdeep                    would she recognize meas I have grown largeand my arms have becomethe long arms of the seareaching over                                    and over                                                                    for the shore

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Mary-Kim Arnold is the author of the poetry collection The Fish & The Dove (Noemi Press, 2020) and Litany for the Long Moment (Essay Press, 2018), an experimental memoir of her adoption from Korea. Other writing has appeared in such publications as ConjunctionsHyperallergicPoem-a-DayThe Georgia ReviewThe Denver Quarterly, and The Rumpus, among othersShe teaches in the Nonfiction Writing Program at Brown University and in the Newport MFA at Salve Regina University. 

"Incredible writing for our times. The Fish & the Dove is powerful, raw, and honest in its attestations questioning the answers provided by those who decide the fate of another. Mary-Kim Arnold shares the lineage of strong voices like Ai Ogawa and Marosa Di Giorgio yet adds her own exquisite language. The Fish & the Dove is new wind for our literary landscape."
—Sam Roxas-Chua

"The shadow cast by the reflection, and the feeling, of looking into a mirror at oneself not only with one’s own eyes but with the eyes of another, especially the compounded eyes of many uninvited others—all threatening to disappear, but not leave—is long, bottomless, and engulfing. And yet in it exists The Fish & The Dove, and the vigilant, avenging poetics of (Saint) Mary-Kim Arnold. I feel, reading this liberatory book, the shattering of that precarious mirror, and, in the reconstitution of its shards, the reclamation of the life—the lives—it held under, faring forward."
—Brandon Shimoda

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