Postcards from Malthusia DAY FORTY-TWO: Mandy Macdonald



In the larchwood bowl since Christmas

a tired apple, wrinkled

like an old man’s cheeks,

its paintbox acid green turned dull yellow.

It is the last apple

in the house I cannot leave.


Three plums are there, too,

glossily black, round and identical,

supermarket-perfect, tasteless, 

yet I must not waste them.  


Sugar, butter, oatflakes, cinnamon,

sweet dark wine to bathe the fruit.

Bottles, bowls, boxes, a miniature city

on the table; the garden beyond the window,

bright with spring blossom, its rural hinterland.


Beyond the garden I cannot go.

Inside the kitchen, though, I minuet,

my movements deliberate, formal,  

between table and hob, hob and oven.


I watch my hands 

chopping, rubbing, pouring. I could be

Vermeer’s milkmaid, with her earthenware jug,

under the sunny window.


Each homely gesture feels sacramental,

as though it were my last,

the world about to crumble

around me.




Australian writer and musician Mandy Macdonald lives in Aberdeen. Her poems appear in anthologies from Arachne Press, Grey Hen Press, Luath Press, and others,  and in many print and online journals such as Causeway/CabhsairCoast to Coast to Coast, and The Poets’ Republic. Her pamphlet The temperature of blue was published in February 2020 by Blue Salt Collective.

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