Mary Kathryn Arnold


Ps. 69:33 “For the Lord heareth the poor, and
despiseth not his prisoners.”

They say they tie the knot differently
when they hang women. Something about
a quicker death. I brought my imprisoned

mistress a scarf of pongee to tie
round her neck, and a saveloy
to eat, her last meal. My calves were

pockmarked from the nettles I walked
through, the bucolic march on the
way to the jail. Half the crowd watched

her drop, but the other half had
bigger fish to fry. That half hissed
and opened their eyes wide as they

considered how a column shatters,
how many fragments can never equal
a life. They watched the pillar split,

a pure experiment, so far
from the danger across the street.


Ruth 1:22 “So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess,
her daughter in law, with her, which returned out of the
country of Moab: and they came to Bethlehem in the
beginning of barley harvest.”

Shall I tell you a dogmatic
girl-meets-tractor tale? No, I think
a love story is better, as
Ruth loved Naomi. I can still

see her (but how to represent
the thing that I see?) riding in
a palanquin, atop an elephant.
Was that the miracle, that she

sat so high, that she satisfied
the need, or can we chalk it all
up to the discovery of grafting?
Maybe it was for the best that

we gazed at her from such a distance,
because she was not so different
from Helen, who, by the end of the war,
was an old and faded woman.

Mary Kathryn Arnold lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Her poems have appeared in The Antigonish Review, The New Compass, Lesbian Quarterly, All Rights Reserved, Mezzo Cammin, and The Fiddlehead. In 1997, Rye Hill Press of Philadelphia, PA published her chapbook of poems, September Fruit. "Christine" and "Naomi" are part of her series Girls with Their Curls: A Mad Alphabet. She is the editor of Rhythm Poetry Magazine, Atlantic Canada's online venue for metrical verse.