Mark Irwin


​He keeps painting the room white and remembers how
they liked looking at one another but said little. —Once
their hands touching in the pie filling, fresh blackberries
mounted in sugar. He can still smell it baking in the oven
as April snow melted. He keeps painting the room white, extra
paint in the corners where the shadows gather, where the dead
sometimes brush, or in the window cornices. He remembers
her hair, black on the pillow. Black there too. The pillow
he still sleeps on. Beauty, what about it? Toward dusk
he’s still painting the room, now losing its contour, floating
like an egg. The brush, the breeze, and the gold light hungry
on one wall. He keeps painting its tint away. The truth is
she floated down from a tall building by the sea. The salt urgent
as chlorine in the eyes. The paint thicker, white on the walls,
the paint dripping all over his shoes invisible now as he leaves.

Mark Irwin’s eighth collection of poetry, American Urn: New & Selected Poems (1987- 2014) was published in 2015. Large White House Speaking appeared from New Issues in the spring of 2013. He has also translated two volumes of poetry. Recognition for his work includes The Nation / Discovery Award, two Colorado Book Awards, four Pushcart Prizes, the James Wright Poetry Award, and fellowships from the Fulbright, Lilly, NEA, and Wurlitzer Foundations. He is an associate professor in the PhD in Creative Writing & Literature Program at the University of Southern California and lives in Los Angeles and Colorado.