Two Poems

by Catherine MacDonald


Himself and two more, the riggers arrive
at eight. One squat, the others lean
as bamboo—tough too—they laugh,
You need a size 6 hat and a 44 chest
to do this work.

       Beneath the porch,
through a trap door is an entrance
to our basement where the drowned
washer and dryer, cold furnace, rest
in rusty puddles of weeks-old
rainwater. I watch the men calculate
the weight, the shape of what must be
       And my son, a balky boy asleep
in the smallest room at the top of the house?
I call him: Come down and see.
       Thick and beautiful knots
of heavy rope, the geometry of eyebolt
and derrick, pulley, tackle, and sling. But he sleeps
through the morning while the men frame rough
pine on site, then balance the shifting load
above their shoulders, shout: Away.

Unreliable Narrator

It’s the nature of memory, not linear but like sparks
shooting from a fire or a familiar shape

smuggled in, promising something tender: a kiss
on the forehead, the cheek, the chin to chasten

and chagrin. I recast your mother as your sister. The suicide?
A freak accident. A long marriage? No, years wasted,

alone. No children into the stubborn pursuit
of a PhD. Two cats, uncomplicated and clean?

No, just a clingy mutt and a ferret. That swamp-set
trailer is somehow now a quarter-acre lot, only a block

from the murmuring bay—and the deserted back road
to the beach? It’s a cul-de-sac, where we never played

girly games nor permitted girls to enter. Did I mention
Kama Sutra powder tossed over your shoulder, snowdrift

on a mirrored tray? I am someone who remembers
everything you forgot to mention. But don’t depend on me.