The Visible Woman

By Mary Carroll-Hackett

As a child, she could make herself invisible, so wrapped she was in dreams of angels in the trees, and aliens in the cornfield, and becoming Houdini, tied up in sheets she shook free from the bed, begging her brother to bind her hands and feet, so she could show him how they would escape. She remade herself into Joan of Arc, burning to be free, or a girl with Tsalagi eyes, among the Nunne’hi, those wise and beautiful spirit people seen only when they want to be. Writing backward right to left, hieroglyphs and letters turned the world and time into things she could bend, rendered them malleable, so she traveled back to Snowbird, heard the stories of the disappearing, found the clearing there in Ireland, that hill at Tara where the light-eyed ones vanished from this middle plane. She learned the art of not remaining, invisibility her best work. After all, being seen meant being hurt. So even now, in her visible life, she remembers, years away from that trailer heat and cornfields, filled with fists and flesh and anger, she knows how not to matter, recalls the disappearing songs the angels in the pine trees brought her, the magic words — Now you see her, Now you don’t —that gypsy-eyed Houdini taught her.


Mary Carroll-Hackett earned an MFA from Bennington College, and her work has appeared in numerous journals including Carolina Quarterly, Clackamas Literary Review, Pedestal Magazine, Superstition Review, Drunken Boat, and The Prose-Poem Project, among others. She was a North Carolina Blumenthal Writer and winner of the Willamette Award for Fiction. Her chapbook, The Real Politics of Lipstick, won Slipstream’s 2010 poetry competition, and another, Animal Soul, was released in 2013 from Kattywompus Press. Her full-length collection, If We Could Know Our Bones, was released January 2014 from A-Minor Press. Her newest collection The Night I Heard Everything is forthcoming from FutureCycle Press in 2015. She founded and teaches in the Creative Writing Programs at Longwood University. She also teaches workshops on Writing Through the Chakras at The Porches writers’ retreat in Virginia, and recently joined the low-residency MFA faculty at West Virginia Wesleyan. Mary founded and edits The Dos Passos Review, Briery Creek Press, and The Liam Rector First Book Prize for Poetry. Mary is currently at work on a memoir.