3 Poems by Janet MacFadyen

Before Memory

I was never raped
at least I don’t think I was
it might have been better
if I had because at least
I would have something to tell
I would have a door
to pound on or a face
to cut up with scissors but instead
I have only this body
and the wall
I am up against
is the air that continues
and continues down
the long hill to a plain
where a black speck
burns up in the heat
it takes binoculars to see it
grinning and wavering
out there like a mirage


When my father died, something tore
out of the room, down the corridor, down the stairs,
half feathered, half furred —

I was flying away, my face turned away,
carried by crows on blue-black wings
beating the deep clear air.

Who will I find to blame for the dying?
Who can I wrest to the ground to demand
they unknit the cloth that has been knit?

The body was sheer material, dark earth
from which a daughter, a bird, a bud could grow.
The bushy eyebrows and waxy skin.
The stubble waiting for the plow.


They say there is always a door,
that love
overcomes. Believe me, I have tried.

I have practiced
the violin like a good artist,
strings stretched to breaking.

You want something sweeter? All right,
a sonatina, dulce
and finally

a pause.

The sea pours in
to the empty cavity.

What is unfolding does not have to be
the murdered shark of my childhood.
Let it remain nameless, follow its own breathing.

Grapevines knit each limb of the puppet’s body,
dreams enter and leave like delicate wings
of powdery mayflies.

See, I have made the scab lovely again,
blood for makeup, ink for my pen,
this ancient oozing

how the body quietly sews itself up
and hides the scar.

About the contributor

Janet MacFadyen is the author of two poetry collections and three chapbooks. Her poetry has appeared in Scientific American, CALYX, Crannóg, Poetry, and Q/A Poetry, and is forthcoming in Sweet. She held a fellowship at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, and is the managing editor of Slate Roof Press.

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