Elly McDonald

Writer

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

intensely

all the way home

Author: Elly McDonald

Art lover. Loves her family and companion animals. Worked in the Australian rock music industry as a journalist and published widely as a poet before moving to London and spending the better part of a decade in advertising agencies. Returned to Australia and briefly tried teaching, primarily teaching English to non-English speaking, newly-arrived refugees but also as a high school classroom teacher. Has travelled Western Europe, North Africa, Russia, Northern India, East Asia, coastal USA, some Pacific Islands, and Australia.

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