Two Poems

by Sadie McCarney

Sadie McCarney’s work has previously appeared in The Puritan, Prairie Fire, Room, Plenitude, PANK, and The Best Canadian Poetry in English, 2015. In 2010, she received the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Artistic Achievement from the Nova Scotia Talent Trust. Sadie lives in Charlottetown, PEI.

Milford

The grown kids war
at whim again, split
their Lincoln Log
cordwood and scowl

or putt to town on Tinker
Toy exhaust. So go. Slip
away in preemie light,
the way chipmunks flit

from house to outhouse,
skittish migrants who gnaw
the nut but leave its hull
behind. The tractor’s

unrepaired brake chain,
wet moss, tires, Godzilla
rhubarb the shut-down
highway store won’t sell

let lie each heirloom
and fossil bone. Past
uncles’ coldwater shacks
that still lean on crossbeams,

past ‘Share the Road’
and ‘No Trespassing’
for the blueberry patch
pollinated by prayer,

walk till copse and thicket
forget and you’re too far out
for bullfrogs to care. Bury
your own body in dogwood

and birch. But know when
to turn back. The grown kids
will growl you back in,
as cattails crick

from the weight of rain
and chokeweed. As men
slough the bitterness
off, a dead skin.

 

Step—

We were all there: crows,
prim diaconal priest,
third cousins wound tight
together like cornrows.

Two by two, like school-
-kids, we filed past the deceased
tarted up in her box,
a bad kewpie doll

with too much rouge.
She never looked so alive
in life, like she’d can-can dance
if you gave her a nudge.

The second wives and I hived
together like bees, abuzz
with idle laughs and chatter—
politics, who brought which bread.

We were all step-aunts
or step-something-or-others,
ghosts the family kept
like cats to haunt

and haunt the family tree.
In a six-foot furrow
they hoisted her down,
(cold dirt dry as liturgy)

in silk and blue eyeshadow
(although, alive, she’d shunned
running water). They recalled
her hugs, a stale waft of tobacco.

But we married in. We weren’t
the Hummel figurines or pudgy
granddaughter she loved. We ate
date squares and stared at our feet.

The dead, but once or twice removed.

 


Sadie McCarney’s work has previously appeared in The Puritan, Prairie Fire, Room, Plenitude, PANK, and The Best Canadian Poetry in English, 2015. In 2010, she received the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Artistic Achievement from the Nova Scotia Talent Trust. Sadie lives in Charlottetown, PEI.

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