Caitlin Grace McDonnell



The bottom, the true bottom of grief
has no name. It is what happens before

the wind and its subsequent motion.
The stream that runs directly from

your soul brings blank white windows.
Still, you bark the question again

and again in the night's crevice.
Meanwhile, words like caution

bump around you in the dark.
There is what you do and what you

spin out of the gold thread that patches
together the flimsy dream. The tiny

red wired envelope. And you were
mighty thirsty, weren't you.

You bent what you could,
and when you got to the place

where the car drove on its own accord,
and the skin sealed around itself, you

lay down in the dirt and froze. You
wanted to serve. You wanted to empty

your organs and stroke their flatness
like old plums. You wanted the world

to finally read you, and yet on the top
of the hill, there were ants, weeds.


New Yorker Poem #6

The snow came down like an afterthought.
Like elegant wallpaper, a pilgrim dress,
a simple shake of the head. Total lack
of emotional involvement can change
your nights. I have a problem with
boundaries, and these activities have
tempered this instinct for forgiveness.
He took a step, and another, and went
on, amazed, focusing on trees growing
wildly in fields. He stayed quiet and
hydrated, kept flashlight use to a
minimum, but was later observed
making all too human errors. No points
will be awarded for guessing what happens
next. Like many great adventures, this one
begins with a passageway. A maker
of fences in the nineteenth century
advertised a new kind of fence as being
"bull strong, horse high and pig tight."
Blackberry and wild rose and unnamed
vines entangled so thickly as to make
a wall. People tell you to use your brain,
to use your body, and those are well
and good. I snatched up a length
of two by four and began to tear
at the earth as if I'd been born to it.
It doesn't take much of a nudge
for the subtext to rise to the surface.
He acted on his instinct to cure
his fears by plunging into them.
She stands there clad only in a pair
of black underpants, but this too,
is wrong. It makes her sound sweet,
whereas she is actually tough and wise.
As usual, the region, a "sensitive area,"
is being evacuated. Through the tree,
she made out the almost inaudible sound
of breathing. The said sun, an enormous
orange ball, peeks through. "All right,"
he said, "if it is that important to you,
it is everything." She absent-mindedly
rubbed her thumb across the glass,
cleaning off a fine layer of dust.