Authors: Marge Piercy
ALSO BY MARGE PIERCY
The Hunger Moon: New & Selected Poems
The Crooked Inheritance
Colors Passing Through Us
The Art of Blessing the Day
What Are Big Girls Made Of?
Mars and Her Children
My Mother’s Body
Stone, Paper, Knife
Circles on the Water
The Moon Is Always Female
The Twelve-Spoked Wheel Flashing
Living in the Open
To Be of Use
(with Bob Hershon, Emmett Jarrett and Dick Lourie)
The Third Child
(with Ira Wood)
City of Darkness, City of Light
The Longings of Women
He, She and It
Gone to Soldiers
Fly Away Home
The High Cost of Living
Woman on the Edge of Time
Dance the Eagle to Sleep
The Cost of Lunch, Etc
. (A collection of short stories)
Pesach for the Rest of Us
So You Want to Write: How to Master the Craft of Writing Fiction and Personal Narrative
(with Ira Wood), 1st & 2nd editions
The Last White Class: A Play
(with Ira Wood)
Sleeping with Cats: A Memoir
Parti-Colored Blocks for a Quilt
Early Ripening: American Women’s Poetry Now
THIS IS A BORZOI BOOK
PUBLISHED BY ALFRED A. KNOPF
Copyright 2015 © by Marge Piercy
All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House LLC, New York, and in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto, Penguin Random House companies.
Knopf, Borzoi Books, and the colophon are registered trademarks of Random House LLC.
Original publication information for the previously published poems included in this collection is located on
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Made in Detroit : poems / Marge Piercy. — First edition.
“This is a Borzoi Book.”
ISBN 978-0-385-35388-5 (hardcover) — ISBN 978-0-385-35389-2 (ebook)
, courtesy of Lori Nix and Kathleen Gerber
Jacket design by Abby Weintraub
My first lessons were kisses and a hammer.
I was fed with mother’s milk and rat poison.
I learned to walk on a tightrope over a pit
where snakes’ warnings were my rattles.
The night I was born the sky burned red
over Detroit and sirens sharpened their knives.
The elms made tents of solace over grimy
streets and alley cats purred me to sleep.
I dived into books and their fables
closed over my head and hid me.
Libraries were my cathedrals. Librarians
my priests promising salvation.
I was formed by beating like a black
smith’s sword, and my edge is still
sharp enough to cut both you and me.
I sought love in dark and dusty corners
and sometimes I even found it
however briefly. Every harsh, every
tender word entered my flesh and lives
there still, bacteria inside my gut.
I suckled Detroit’s steel tits. When
I escaped to college I carried it with
me, shadow and voice, pressure
that hardened me to coal and flame.
In the tiny livingroom of my parents’ house
that my mother, brought up in tenements
always called the frontroom, stood
a maroon couch with rough itchy
upholstery that marked my tender
thighs if ever I sat on it.
On every surface, wooden shoes,
Eiffel tower, leather teepee,
ceramic dolls in costume—
souvenirs of places they had
gone or she wished she had.
She hated an empty space.
Emptiness meant poverty. With
money she would have collected
paintings, objets d’art which these
were to her, emblems of times away
from our asbestos shack where she
imagined a richer life. Out of library