TWO POEMS – Janet McCann

Photo by Alex Sherstnev on Unsplash

Something Lives

Something lives in the crawl space
Above my room.  A bird? Maybe a rat?
Sometimes it seems to be shaking out its feathers.
But then there’s a scrabbling overhead
And the squares of insulation quiver.

I’m not afraid of you, I tell the shaking panels.
We all have the right to be.
And I will not pursue you with poison
Or traps.

I want to deal with it in person,
Make a deal with it: I won’t if you won’t.

What if it’s a lost angel, or some
Boschian beast representing sins
I cannot even imagine?  What if it’s rabid
Or weirdly contagious?  What if I have bats
In my twelve-inch belfry?  Bats or angels?

Do they appear alike
In the few random slits of muted moonlight?

Scuffling, shaking, someone’s chasing something.
More life up there than here.
Allegory, anyone?  Or a stiff scotch.

I raise my glass to whatever’s up there,
Towards an appendage reaching down,
Half hand, half claw,

As from an old cathedral ceiling.

To the Designer

we think the world should be a touch screen.
anything and anyone you want.
touch the gray sky and say blue.
scroll back yesterday and the children’s parade
with drums and horns. 
touch your face, call back your hair.
now it is 1945 and daddy is back from the war, 
gray faced but whole.
everything has a shimmer on it.  you can be in Russia
for the turn of the old century.  does it matter,
this shimmering surface.  will some day
the screen go blank or will it just
go on like this for you, the world an unformed welter
forever and every day. not a day 
but a fish-flicker of time, of endless here.

Journals publishing Janet McCann’s work include KANSAS QUARTERLY, PARNASSUS, NIMROD, SOU’WESTER, AMERICA,  CHRISTIAN CENTURY, CHRISTIANITY AND LITERATURE, NEW YORK QUARTERLY, TENDRIL, and others. A 1989 NEA Creative Writing Fellowship winner, she taught at Texas A & M University from 1969-2016, is now Professor Emerita. Most recent poetry collection: THE CRONE AT THE CASINO (Lamar University Press).

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