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Linda McCarriston
Arts and Culture:
Linda McCarriston
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Biography and Poem

Linda McCarriston writes about women, children, animals — healing. She won the Terrence Des Pres Prize for her 1991 book of verse, EVA-MARY. Those poems deal with the domestic violence that marred her childhood in working-class Lynn, Massachusetts and her subsequent feelings as a wife and mother.

Learn more about McCarriston from this selection from THE LANGUAGE OF LIFE.

A Castle in Lynn

In the hometown tonight,
in the quiet before sleep,
a man strokes himself in the darkened
theater of memory. Best old

remembrance, he gets to play it
as slow as he needs, as his hand,
savvy tart of a million reruns,
plays the tune, plays the parts:

now hand is the hard bottom
of the girl. Now hand is full
of the full new breast. Now hand
—square hand, cruel as a spade—

splits the green girlwood of her body.
No one can take this from him now
ever, though she is for years a mother
and worn, and he is too old

to force any again. His cap hangs
on a peg by the door—plaid wool
of an elderly workingman's park-bench
decline. I got there before

the boys did, he knows, hearing
back to her pleading, back to her
sobbing, to his own voice-over
like his body over hers: laughter,

mocking, the elemental voice
of the cock, unhearted, in its own
quarter. A man is king in his own
he can still say, having got

what he wanted: in a lifetime
of used ones, second-hand, one girl
he could spill like a shot of whiskey,
the whore only he could call daughter.

Reprinted with permission of the author and David Grubin Productions.

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