Giving is Wrinkled
by Mark C. Watney

after Alberto Rios

We give because we are broken
We give because we are mending
We give because our lip is bruised
We give because she smiled

Giving is wrinkled
It has no teeth

It mocks the meat it feeds on
then eats the bread of contrition

It grows when cut-
not like a zero-sum apple pie

It spills everywhere
like a poor woman’s jar of oil

It goes bad every morning
if hoarded overnight

It must be wasted
like nard on a poor man’s feet

We give because of that

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 22, Issue 4.

Mark Watney’s first poem was published in a 1976 anthology of the best high school poetry in South Africa. Four decades later he published his 2nd poem– at the age of 56. And now, at age 60, he says he may have hit his stride. “My brain is slowing down,” he admits, “yet seems to have finally acquired a certain poetic sensibility–perhaps as a consolation in old age. Or perhaps I just needed 56 years to understand what TS Eliot meant when he said that ‘Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion.’”

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