Marianne Peel

Marianne Peel

Viable was accepted as part of the MSU Library Short Edition call for work on the theme of “recovery,” in coordination with the MSU Broad Art Museum's exhibit of Beverly Fishman's art, also called Recovery. After having taught middle and high school English for 32 years, Marianne is now nurturing her own creative spirit. She has spent three summers in Guizhou Province, teaching best practices to teachers in China. She received Fulbright-Hays Awards to Nepal (2003) and Turkey (2009). Marianne participated in Marge Piercy's Juried Intensive Poetry Workshop (2016). Marianne's poetry appears in Muddy River Poetry Review, Belle Reve Literary Journal, Jelly Bucket Journal, Gyroscope Review, among others. Marianne was a finalist for the Naugatuck River Review Narrative Poetry Contest (2020), and she was longlisted for the Alpine Fellowship Writing Prize (2021). She has a collection of poetry, No Distance Between Us, published in 2021 by Shadelandhouse Modern Press. Marianne is a graduate of Michigan State University.

My father banned books in the house
when I turned fourteen. Thought my face
squandered too much time entombed in books.
Novels peddling peculiar doctrines.
Dubbed me Four Eyes, my cat-eye glasses
sagging off my nose. Grabbed my chin with his fist,
slammed shut my mouth. Told me flies would
swoop in there, between my teeth. Would deposit
maggots on my tongue. He plucked
rotten potatoes from behind my ears, potatoes
pocked with grey eyes, grey cross-eyed pupils
enshrouded in slumping skin.

At night I buried the back of my head
beneath the pillow, the embroidered case starched
and pressed stiff with my mother's flatiron. I shined
a flashlight on the contraband book I'd smuggled home:
Let the Hurricane Roar. I wondered if strangulation
was possible between chapters. Wondered if the pillow
would asphyxiate my airway in the cave of the night.
Wondered if I would drown there
between the pages. Interred
without a bell to wrench.

Satisfied, I resuscitated
with every proud cockcrow.

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