Postcards from Malthusia DAY SEVENTEEN: Beth McDonough

Gone Viral, March 2020 

Not that there was ever a right way

to hear or say this name, but at first

a word arrived in ebullient shapes. It evoked

jewelled diadems, tiaras, even stars.


Perhaps it wouldn’t be this, despite

microscopic, photographic news. We whispered

differences, numbers, hidden times.

Softly, we were coughed up, and began


to take everything, and ourselves, apart.

Light bead cars moved over misted bridges,

as we told statistic-clacking rosaries.

Counted. Waited. Watched. To date, it wasn’t us.


We came to learn in more specific terms,

and in my head it mispronounced.

I heard crow-like presence, decked in black,

a hooded close-by shudder. We might be ok.




Beth McDonough’s poetry appears in CausewayAntiphon, Interpreter’s House and elsewhere; she reviews in Dundee University Review of the Arts. Collections include Handfast (2016, with Ruth Aylett) and Lamping for Pickled Fish (4Word, 2019).


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