Elly McDonald


Messalina at the beach-house (1983)

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glowering in the gnarled clutches of a malleetree she’s

bent, that cat

my mother tries to reason with her

only the dog ever responds to her logic

the dog and my father, four focused brown

eagerly uncomprehending eyes

the cat resists.

She veils herself behind a silt-heavy spiderweb not

one of us would broach

we discuss deserting her

my mother sobs, tired

hoping she’ll feel pity

(it’s late, it’s dark, the mosquitoes all gloat)

she feels contempt.

Fetch! they command me, the visiting child

the dog and I bound into ropes of corpse-flesh web

it clings like rolled rubber: we imagine many

armed spider hugs and fear

a beach-scrub Kali, slapping her hands across our eyes

our cat has eyes

like a goddess of destruction. She sits,

spite incarnate, in the backseat of the car

She and I, we dislike each other


all the way home

Author: Elly McDonald

Australian-born, with English mother, has lived in several Australian cities and in London. Travelled widely. Way way back when, published widely as a poet and short story writer.

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