This week’s poem is a short letter to a loved one. I love how glue, which we often think of as a good thing, is the problem here, its “opaque toxins” and the way it holds things apart as much as it holds things together. The ending of the poem is also an example of how a combination of sound and sense can make us catch our breath. The progression of sounds in the end words in four of the last five lines – “dusts,” “that,” “But,” and “cut” – is what helps make the ending so sharp.

Mary McColley is a young writer who has been working with The Telling Room for years. If you don’t know it, The Telling Room is Portland’s writing center for students ages 6 to 18 – it works with thousands of young people each year from all over Maine and publishes multiple chapbooks and books each year. McColley graduated from Marshwood High School last May. She has been a Young Emerging Author at The Telling Room and is working on a book of poems in French and English.

Arts & Crafts

By Mary McColley

I’m sorry. I never was good with glue,

let it coat my fingers like ghosts

before I ever fixed a torn thing.

There’s too much of it between us now

opaque toxins clutching at our edges.

We’re never quite whole, skinny lines

sticky as the space between atoms,

catching at dirt and acid dusts,

falling in love with bad things. It’s not like that.

I love you. But

people aren’t paper dolls, I’m sorry.

We remember where we’re cut.

Gibson Fay-LeBlanc is Portland’s poet laureate. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2017 Mary McColley. It originally appeared in “Sparks” (The Telling Room, 2017) and appears here by permission of the author and The Telling Room. This column is accepting submissions through Oct. 31. Poems must be written by Maine poets or about Maine. Submissions must be made online. For more information go to

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