So easily we shatter.

SO EASILY WE SHATTER BY IRÈNE MATHIEU 34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 10


so easily we shatter, and our bones,

like bits of crystal, are glass blown

in the caverns of blood of our chests.

holding you in the slanting sun,

parallelograms of light shifting on our skin,

I imagine that our touch is enough.


and we were always thanking each other.

the season of mangoes gave way to

the season of mandarins. still,

we were thanking:

thank you for breakfast

thank you for being

thank you for calling

thank you for listening

thank you for everything.


the shocked calm after calamity

masks the inside of glass cracking down.

like flower vases on the floor

our femurs had collapsed within us.

like windows opened by a rock

our rib cages splintered under our skin.


for the heat of sadness that we held

for each other we will be forever

thanking. beyond our touch,

beyond our present, when we can

no longer look for ourselves

in each other’s eyes, still

we will thank.

IRÈNE MATHIEU

I was struck by the way the dogs are almost mirror images of each other and the girl in the doorway appears to be caught between the two sides of a decision. I took the photo in the Dominican Republic where I was working on a Fulbright research project. Although my field is global health and I am preparing for a career in international medicine, I have always been an artist as well. I have been a writer since before I could write, and I have taken photos for quite a few years as well. I am primarily a poet, although I also write fiction and non-fiction essays. My work focuses on themes of personal growth, change, and rebirth; travel and experiences in Latin America; relationships; and occasional forays into social justice. In the poem So Easily We Shatter the “calamity” refers to an earthquake in Haiti. This poem closely relates to the photo, because the lines and contrast remind me of the breaking imagery I use in the poem, as well of the idea of borders and how they are both fluid and impressively rigid, particularly on this island in the weeks following the earthquake.