Mary C. Rowin


Mary lives in Middleton with her husband Roger and cat Rio (rhymes with chee-o). Mary was born and raised in the Dakotas, which sometimes appear in her poems, but she has lived in Wisconsin for all of her adult life. She is a docent at the Chazen Museum of Art at the University of Wisconsin—Madison and tutors English as a Second Language. A friend once asked, “Do you have any goals?” Yes. To write better and better poems.

Mary blogs at


This poem was inspired by a missing-cat notice and a few too many Stephen Sondheim songs.

Negative Space

I draw the shape between elbow and rib,
a sculptural space that only exists
because the hands of the sculptor insist,
creating an abstraction for my nib.
At the end of the exercise I see
human forms emerging, limbs taking shape.
They form a square of legs and arms, loins draped.
Bent in a marble prison, heads struggle to be free.
It’s not possible to sculpt a prairie space.
A sculpture is solid and the Plains are just air.
Only a haiku can describe something so spare,
the antithesis of an Eastern place.

Prairie grass grows deep, it does not confine,
and nothing obstructs the horizon line.

First published in Stoneboat, 2012

Missing Cat Notice, the Musical

[missing cat poster] Eight years old.
Eighteen pounds.
Eighteen pounds!
Its fur is long
And Golden.

They said it’s buff
But to me—
It’s Golden.
There is no name,
It has no sex.

It’s just Golden.
And fat.
And furry.
And lost.
And Golden.

If found bring it home.
If found bring it home.
Bring it to me.
There is no name.
It has a name—it must!

I’ll call him Andrew.
Golden Andrew.
He’s eight years old.
He’s eighteen pounds.
And his name is Andrew.

And he lives with me
But he’s missing now and his fur is Golden.
If you find him,
Call me.
Call me.

And I’ll come for him.
Golden Andrew.
Welcome him home.
Golden Andrew.