Glosa for Those Who Pretend

Kathleen McClung

“In the midst of grass that just wants to rest
do a plant, a person and a rabbit communicate
with each other? Not to mention worms
busy at the roots and rain about to come”

                                    —Grace Marie Grafton, “Detour”
Playing monster with her sister, does she prefer
chasing and roaring or squealing and fleeing?
Do they take turns on those Sacramento afternoons
in 1969? She probably bosses her sister around
in the midst of grass that just wants to rest,

she probably devises a system of rules and rewards
involving the lemon tree, the blackberry bush,
the monster’s nest, its fragrant yellow eggs,
purple clusters of the sweetest furred poison.
Do a plant, a person and a rabbit communicate,

exchange advice: what not to nibble, inhale or drop,
and how exactly does freezing work? They agree
for a while, yes, the sisters. Was she the first
to grip the doubt boomerang? They quarrel
with each other. Not to mention worms.

New monsters pursue them now through tunnels, corridors,
dive bars with pretzel sticks and flavored oxygen.
Winter in their distant cities: beneath bare trees
the most primitive creatures—no limbs, no spines—
busy at the roots. And rain about to come.


Kathleen McClung is author of The Typists Play Monopoly and Almost the Rowboat. Her poems appear widely in journals and anthologies including Southwest Review, The MacGuffin, Mezzo Cammin, Ekphrasis, California Quarterly, Atlanta Review, Third Wednesday, Forgotten Women, Sanctuary, Last Call, Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California, and elsewhere. Winner of the Rita Dove, Morton Marr, Shirley McClure, and Maria W. Faust national poetry prizes, she is a Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee. Associate director and sonnet judge for the Soul-Making Keats literary competition, she teaches at Skyline College and The Writing Salon and directs Women on Writing: WOW Voices Now on the Skyline campus. In 2018-2019 she is a writer-in-residence at Friends of the San Francisco Public Library.

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