Mary Ruefle was born in Pennsylvania in 1952. Her father was a military officer, and she spent her early life traveling throughout the United States and Europe. She graduated from Bennington College in 1974 with a degree in literature.
Ruefle has published many books of poetry, including My Private Property (Wave Books, 2016); Trances of the Blast (Wave Books, 2013); A Little White Shadow (2006), an art book of “erasures,” a variation on found poetry; The Adamant (1989), winner of the 1988 Iowa Poetry Prize; and Memling’s Veil (University of Alabama Press, 1982).
She is also the author of a book of collected lectures, Madness, Rack, and Honey (Wave Books, 2012); a book of prose, The Most of It (Wave Books, 2008); and a comic book, Go Home and Go To Bed (Pilot Books/Orange Table Comics, 2007).
Ruefle is the recipient of numerous honors, including an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and a Whiting Award. She lives in Bennington, Vermont, and teaches in the MFA program at Vermont College.
I was washing the pot with my eyes closed,
running my hand over its surface,
searching for unacceptable bumps.
I kept telling myself perfectly clear minds
killed the Jews, yes, I said, the killers
were given advice, stay calm, lean forward,
do what you have to do with a clear mind.
And the Korean monks, life after life,
calm, forward, clear mind.
My posture was bad from bending over the sink.
I looked like someone who was going to spit
into the dirty water,
someone who was upset,
someone who would die on all fours.
But mostly the evenings were calm.
Flat pond, tribunal of frogs,
lettuces growing in the turned earth,
a spade lying by in the half-greened grass,
and a baby duckling in the water
swimming behind his mother.
Why, there are six of them, they appear
to be gliding, it’s positively depressing
we should try to be more like animals
and less like them at the same time.