Melanie McCabe


Come, cotton batting, so I do not break;
pile deep a barricade against my door.
Numb with white novocaine this ache.

Let panes frost, front steps falter
at a tourniquet of storm and tightening ice.
Let cars in tsunamis of snow go under.

Shellac with glaze the myrtle’s limbs,
so it clinks its wind-chime bones of glass.
Let the night air play lullabies of tirespin.

Come, coagulating cold to clot
the veins of this city which bring him home.
Let drifts seal streets to plows and salt.

Entomb me in a sepulcher of frozen stone.
Trap me dreamless in a gauze of rime:
Saved. Insentient. Reprieved. Alone.


God Explains

I didn’t create; I became.
When time’s fist uncurled into
the open palm of the cosmos,
I was simply there with my charms,
my ups and downs, my strange.
My strings plucked a high note
that trills in your cells.
I am not what made you, but
what you were made of.

I had no plan; I was only
a plot unfolding. I didn’t write
the story; I was in the story,
and sometimes, as surprised
as you by what came next.
Isn’t it always the way?
One thing led to another and owed
its tumble and spill to the domino
that preceded it.

You look for me, but you might
as well look for the air you pull
through your lungs and transform
into something it had not been before.
You were not made in my image,
any more than you were conjured
to mimic a galaxy or a blowfly.
You are merely, astonishingly,
what happened. And so am I.


Melanie McCabe is the author of three poetry collections, The Night Divers (Terrapin Books, 2022), What The Neighbors Know (FutureCycle Press, 2014), and History of the Body (David Robert Books, 2012), as well as a memoir, His Other Life: Searching For My Father, His First Wife, and Tennessee Williams (University of New Orleans Press, 2017). Her essays and poems have appeared widely, including in The Washington Post, The Georgia Review, The Cincinnati Review, Shenandoah, and Threepenny Review.

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