Three Poems by Sadie McCarney



and this airplane’s the size of an aphid who’ll prey on the fresh condos of suburban Boston; 13 and I’m wearing my too-big jeans, stinky and inked over in ballpoint pen; 13 and my suitcase is packed with Nair and tarot I pretend I can use; 13 and I predict her hair will already be greying and unwashed yet perfect; 13 and she’ll smoke the stubs of clove cigarettes snug in black wrappers like jackets; 13 and I’ll tell the whole room I drink as I take my very first swig of liquor; 13 and I’ll ache to be dared to kiss her; 13 and she’ll say she’s been to alternate states on LSD, on coke, on speed; 13 and there will never be an alternate Massachusetts where I do not love her; 13 and I won’t know much about hormones, but I’ll understand kabooms and chemical reactions; 13 and I’ll nurse a chemical burn from the Nair I only slather on to impress her; 13 and the outdoor summer-stock theatre will be so hot someone faints in front of us; 13 and she’ll be that hot, too, but right now this airplane’s so small my limbs are tucked in for rescue, and with my square inch of space I pull a Bic from my pocket and colour a blue-black heart on my jeans (keeping the warm pen snug in my hand) because I don’t know any of this yet; I’m 13 and flying for the very first time and I don’t know what it feels like to land.


Fairy Tale in the Supermarket

Now, all out of biodegradable
bags, our brave heroine (rarely seen
by day) hunches her way through

that bloated bodega, the Store.
The cart corrals clang in indecent
chaos. And what wicked spell

makes sliding doors open, close?
The Store flyer touts a sale on
turnips. But look over there, in

the culled citrus grove—look
the girl slinks lithely through
the limes, in her Edwardian hairdo

and ersatz moccasins. Could she kill
the curse? Could they do crosswords
together, coo unknown blues to each

other by moonlight? No. The girl
turns as the quick enchantment breaks.
Our heroine hefts her cart with the bum

wheel brighter and brighter through
the Store. (Fluorescent lights make her
blink like a mole.) The meat all gleams

like battalion bits beneath its dense
zodiac of deli signs, and the tank
of lobsters who wear rubber bands

as funeral corsages are spookily still.
They’ve given up. But wait: over there,
by the “natural” wieners—wait!—the girl

again. She cradles a chunk of baloney
like a baby, her hair cropped close,
white house paint on her pants. The girl!

At last, the girl! Our heroine feels
the curse almost quit. But the girl
plunks the half-meat down in her

cart, then cuffs the ass of the boy
beside her, as though they are not in
the Store, not surrounded by clerks

and mastabas of Store-brand saltines.
Our heroine wrenches her rickety
cart away from the couple caressing

in Deli. She picks up cumin, a pillow
of oats, a free Dixie cup of marbled
cheese from a sphinx-like woman

who asks what she needs. It’s like half
a riddle in Swedish or Dutch. At last,
she finds the compost bags, but they

are all too short, too wide, or too long.
And none are right for landfill conditions.
The curse makes everything feel wrong.


Spring Catalogue

Bracken and hulled nuts in half-up houses.
Sweet-whiffed rot. Names carved in doors.
A porch of tar paper, melted to one mound.
Shoved-off shovels. Nails rusted rare.

A jerry can. A lawn-chair frame.
A black barbeque, black bark, and weeds.
Half-heard birds on a lake slow with scum.
The great black cabin. The lake spread wide.

A dirty bulb that hums, dim, from wire.
Where beams break through, a shade of gnats.
The synth of satellites and far-off foghorns.
A dozen spring peepers’ lovesick throats.

Popular Mechanics. A teacup of ticks.
Unmarked, corrosive cans. A courage.
Six beds: worms, wrapped up in quilts.
Big 8 grape pop, a ’94 vintage.

Low roof—makes you long for less height.
Sears & Roebuck TP. A diner table.
A stray queen of diamonds weather-beat to wood.
The worse-off wood stove and chipped blue kettle.

A book of matches too wet for fire.
A cardboard box from Nan’s last move.
Twigs, and a hail-hammered sense of here.
Rust like bronze armour in light you could love;

beams that break on shining flies.
Pulp magazines’ mail-in miracle ads.
The spring peepers’ hope: their mating call.
A ready kettle. Six beds, all made.

The sweet of clover in with scum.
A white sink under a dusty layer.
A foundered rowboat full of rain.
The Book of Common Prayer.


About the Author:

Sadie McCarney’s poetry has appeared in Grain, Prairie Fire, The Malahat Review, The Puritan, Room, and The Best Canadian Poetry in English, among other publications. She lives in Charlottetown. Her debut book, Live Ones, is just out from the Oskana Poetry and Poetics series published by University of Regina Press. tall-lighthouse Press (London) will bring out a UK edition in the near future. “13” was first published in Plenitude . “Fairy Tale in the Supermarket” was first published in EVENT.