Poetry: Anna McDonald

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 playgrounds.

The libraries.

The flights.

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.

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