Elisabeth Murawski


Saddled with it, the large birthmark
on her chest, shaped like Africa,

too much to cut away. Years
of high-necked dresses, nothing

diaphanous. There were rumors
of a lover once. Unclear who left,

if she undressed. Aylmer,
in Hawthorne’s tale, was obsessed

with perfection—Georgianna dies
when he tries to cure her small

red birthmark faintly like a hand.
Only doctors and nurses see hers. 
Each morning after a shower,
when the steam clears,

it blooms in the vanity mirror,
her rough dark continent.

Elisabeth Murawski

is the author of Heiress, which received the Poetry Society of Virginia Book Award for 2018; Zorba’s Daughter, which won the May Swenson Poetry Award; Moon and Mercury; and two chapbooks. Her publication credits include The Yale Review, The Hudson Review, and The Carolina Quarterly. A native of Chicago, she currently lives in Alexandria, Virginia.