Anna McDonald is a Brooklyn-based poet. These poems were written in the month of April.
A Children’s Story
The shops were closed.
The schools were closed.
The hairdressers were closed.
The dog runs.
The basketball courts were closed.
The shoe shine, the paper store, the pizza.
And outside the door of the undertaker’s truck
and outside the door of the shut-down tea house
and outside the door of those birthing at home, and of those proned and intubated,
the trees were open.
The star magnolias were open like legs.
The saucer magnolias were open like elevators.
The pears were open as the eyes of a green-eyed
stranger you met on a bus.
The lilac cones were open like an ice cream shop
from the old country
and the little ground clover and squill were all open
across contiguous meadows,
open as a big renovated museum
you could visit for free
in the peak years, in the boom,
and they would have chamber music
playing in the evenings in the mezzanine,
and you would have been there
with your form
and your handbag supper
of half-melted chocolates
and that little pulse at your animal neck
among the wine craters and the netsuke
and the glowing alabaster jars,
there in the apex
of the past, and see, I say
to myself, as the bluebells
carpet the floors of the garden
and the poppies drop their sepals to the wind,
maybe the city
will open again.
I like how everything packs into the skeleton
like a suitcase, all the animals and vegetables
who live inside me, the Sardinian coral of my arteries,
the big mushroom cap of my liver, the endless peapod
of my intestines, the horse teeth of my spine, the venus
fly trap of my uterus, the atlas moth of my
pelvis, the ray without a barb of my labia, and my ovaries!
the eyes of a blind lamb. Before I knew I was
a machine for suffering, I wanted to be put on top
of a crepe paper float, paraded
around town. Alone with everything
in my body, I was the ecstatic governess
of an impossible kingdom.
“I like being a witch”
I like being a witch.
I like resting my belly against the oven.
I like birthing the lambs.
I like putting the smallest lamb in the oven.
I like being a witch.
I like it when somebody comes to surprise me
when I’m at my pot sterilizing the pump.
I like my vinegar cabinet.
I like my wart collection.
I like my pine tar soap.
I like my stink.
I like my underwear linings with rat bites.
I like my bristle haired hog.
I like my green winter boogers.
I like my knockoffs and replicas.
I like my lathe with its block of wet cement
I can turn.
I like my jowls, and my nasolabial folds.
I like schmearing my face with serums.
I like being alone.
I let them in the light months
sing kookaburra with marshmallows
around my fire pit.
I wait in the ground like a bulb
for the next dark season.
A Few Short Poems, after Basho
After the novacaine and pliers,
the drills and crowns
of winter, it has finally arrived.
The toothless spring.
Saucer magnolias open
like legs. How delicious they smell
from under our masks.
People who were once attuned to birdsong
now keep ears
for the lapping of ambulances.
Trees flaunt their poufs
to the birds. A reminder of hair-dos
at night-clubs from the old country.
And when I am prone. And when I am
intubated. Remember me to the
I leave my family amid the shoots
to steal these lines from the bushes.
Lest you think you have been spared,
remember this meadow
is a potters field.
Late spring. The heavy dogwood tongues
I used to desire
have capitulated. The virus is asleep
on its mother’s palm.