Surface Tension

 
Photo by Stephen O'Shea

Photo by Stephen O'Shea

I stand by the pond,
eating woolly snow from my mitten.
The ice has thawed, and frozen again, but
I can still see the cracks. 

I don’t know where the pond skaters go
when water freezes:
there’s no water here to keep them up,
scooting along, no fish
pushing up against the top of the water
like the lid on a pot. 

The house smells of good things.

I pull my boots off and
leave them dripping on the rug
in the hall. Nanny
doesn’t mind about drips; she’ll
mop them up, ‘cause a little water never hurt anything.’  

The table has a crack that runs across it.
I help her pull it wide
so we can drop leaves inside,
and pretend the table is bigger,
and there are always so many people here for dinner-
like the old days, when
there weren’t any missing uncles
or Grandads.

Potatoes don’t have eyes any more
after Nanny is through with them.
They lie flat, on the side of my plate,
beached in gravy. 

She glares down the
length of the table, passing the rolls,
and almost-arguments
go out like candles. 

Ideology has no place here
only butter,
pepper.


Mary McDonough, University of Strathclyde. Mary wrote her first poem at age 7, after ensuring (or so she thought) that her youngest brother’s adoption proceeded smoothly, and just prior to performing (unsuccessful) open-heart surgery on a snapping turtle crushed by the postman’s jeep;. Mary is a PhD candidate at Strathclyde.