NEA Literature Fellowships

Killarney Clary

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(2011 - Poetry)

(She lied)

She lied.  What you have made is good.  So many gray clay pots were
proudly collected at the school gate.  There is no one like you, My Darling.

Thin clouds hold the sharp heat off.  Rocked in shallow swells, a drift of
minnows pulses.  Suspicion hangs in monsoonal moisture.  A swirl of pale
hair in the bay--pressing forward keeps the weight suspended.

Powdered, loose skin gives, cool against a kiss, receives, I love you, which
veils with a sheer fabric--I love you enough to lie.

At the edge of the Pacific, a speedboat wake taps the shore.  The speckle of
shadow disperses; castles collapse into their tunnels, and a woman shakes her
sunburned boy, Where's your sister?

(Previously appeared in the anthology Bear Flag Republic)

Killarney Clary was born in Los Angeles in 1953 and raised in Pasadena. She was an art student at UC Irvine and a graduate student in poetry writing there also. She has taught at UC Irvine and at the University of Iowa. In 1992 she received a Lannan Literary Fellowship. Her poetry collections are Who Whispered Near Me, By Common Salt (Farrar Straus & Giroux, 1990), and Potential Stranger (University Of Chicago Press, 2003). She lives on the central coast of California.

Photo by Chris Arth

Author's Statement

I am thrilled to have been awarded an NEA Fellowship. Great writers and careful readers have judged me worthy, and that is inspiring. Because I have only taught sporadically and I don't give many readings, I don't often get a sense of how I'm interacting with anyone who might read my poems. In the midst of a long, quiet stretch, having a positive response makes me feel that there are people listening. I am very grateful.