Marie Pavlicek-Wehrli

The Amish Girls, 1952

            after a photograph by A. Aubrey Bodine

I want to say flowers each
face a carved alabaster
or milk-glass smoothed by touch
of something other
than hands but this trio
of black petals stitched black
upon black peers out
from under their bonnets’ brims
their cold eyes older than stone

First Lesson from Grace: At Twelve

Sister of the locked bedroom door
I row out with you
into the creek’s farthest channel
past silver boats skimming slow
the cloud-swiped watery green.

In whispered detail you construct—as if
he were here in front of us—the shape
of a man’s two legs, his knees and hips—
and at the center of his groin a place
for a mouth, the ghost shape

of his conjured body mapped and marked
with an X, the sound of your voice
part threat part caress
heard against the water’s slap-slap
soft upon the boat’s sides and back.

You slippery fish. Grinning as I squirm.
Leaning into me as I lean out.
Your face lit from below and burnished bright
—as the altar boy’s paten lifted to our chins
Sunday mornings kneeling arm to arm—

the forced focus of your eyes
and the briny sheen—your yellow hair—
blindsides me as you hold us here
and alone. In a boat. On a creek. Wanting me
to know what you now know. And how.

And when. As the creek water gurgles low
and laps a row of snake holes riding the edge
of muddy bank laced with moss
where, turning to count each ripple, finger thin—
I slip into the currents and disappear.

Author Portrait

Marie Pavlicek-Wehrli is a poet, painter, and printmaker. She has been a Fellow at both the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (Painting) and the Ragdale Foundation (Poetry). Her poems have appeared in various journals and anthologies, including Raleigh Review, About Place, Anon, Blast Furnace, Ekphrasis, Poet Lore, and Beloit Poetry Journal. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing/Poetry from Warren Wilson College and is a recipient of a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist's Grant in Poetry. She leads poetry workshops at The Writer’s Workshop in Bethesda, MD.

View the website of Marie Pavlicek-Wehrli