May 2007

Catherine MacDonald


This marks an author's first online publication Catherine MacDonald lives in Richmond, Virginia, where she is completing an M.F.A. in creative writing at Virginia Commonwealth University. Her poems have also appeared in Washington Square, Winter 2006.

You Are Loosed From Your Mooring    

This is the pelican's view of the bay: fast-tack
of sails, stroke of a flock in flight, wind-reel
over water as schools silver the surface.

Imagine the bell of the jellyfish adrift, sea-ice
in August, wind-driven, tide-locked. We go
where shadows go, to the northeast corners,

above doorways, near chimneystacks. They buried
smooth stones here for conjuring, sewing needles,
polished bone, a baby's tooth: the common-stuff

of  a slave. Terns now dive the clotted creek and cedar
swamp, skirt sterile oyster reefs. Fair skies whirl
in from the west in homage to the night heron, a nest

robber, its savage habit of tender plunder.
Over stubbled fields, a blue tarp blusters, wild
over water, an apostrophe to the moving multitude.

Note: The title and the italicized words of the last line are from Frederick Douglass'
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.



Estranged Labor    

This is the work of the house. You are in charge
of the grass. I am in charge of the plates.
You stalk live game: every pursuit
a compromise, the pale interior absolving
the elemental outside. You fight
the numberless leaves. I slaughter the hens
and keep their pimpled flesh from the hound.
This is the work of the house: you salt
the slug. I wrestle the twisted limb
from the blazing tree. Consider the sweep
of carpet moss, the lure of a wire-worm
snaking the drain. Hare-footed, tail curled
above muscled hock, a gazehound
locks on the traces of sleep, her eyes
on the spilled drawer, the door ajar.



Song Of The Last Meeting, After Anna Akhmatova    

A conventional woman, I close my eyes
when I kiss, make love under cover. Often,
I can't decide what to wear. It's no accident
I'm alone, teeth chattering, nipples stiff

in the cold. I've rushed out of your car
to the sidewalk at dusk, no coat, no hat. Not
numb, but fully awake. It's done. Roll down
the window and throw me my gloves. I fumble—

right on left, left on right. Please. Go on.
I'm full of this season, brittle leaves
on wind, too much talk, the sun's coy
rays. I know how to find cover, when

to run. Let it end. Winter is a kind of passion
too—a spare house with bare windows where I
breathe deeply alone.  I am stone beneath
the stuttering bulb, its cool fluorescent hum.



Catherine MacDonald: Poetry
Copyright ©2007 The Cortland Review Issue 35The Cortland Review