The 2River View 28.3 (Spring 2024)

Forester McClatchey

A Carcass

      after Baudelaire

For many days it hounded our morning walk:
a German Shepherd rotting in ragweed.
We watched it balloon with gas, a rounded shock
of fur, a hot and swollen bulb of feed

for buzzing, tiny fauna, and I do not think
we mentioned it aloud, just held our breath
to muzzle horror. Its luxuriant stink
elapsed; the skin collapsed; the bone beneath

blinked its dazzling fretwork at the sky.
We stared, stiff-lipped. What were we to say?
Impossible to milk a moral from

that corpse. The fiercest facts preclude a Why.
Our helpless silence seemed the only way
to pray. The bones were eaten. Every crumb.


Not Knowing How to Breathe

Your breath against my ear, ten-pound girl,
is a blend of sighs and snorts, of jagged whirrs
and gurgle-moans. Teach me how to hear
you learning how to breathe. To mark the purl
of puff that gladdens orchards in the lungs.
The rattle-breath of hunger. The hiccup-sigh
of fullness. Not knowing how to breathe is a song;
soon you’ll know, and this balky song will die.
You’ll come to breathe in fluent, thoughtless gulps.
Voluble without attention, you’ll take
refreshment without thanks. As I do. Help
me, ten-pound girl, hear your labored breath
for what it is. The slog of getting the gift.
The awkward, slow rowing away from death.

Forester McClatchey was a finalist for the 2023 Vassar Miller Poetry Prize and the 2023 Able Muse Book Prize and a runner-up in the 2023 Michael Waters Poetry Prize. His work appears in 32 Poems, Birmingham Poetry Review, Five Points, Gulf Coast, The Hopkins Review, and Plough. He teaches at Atlanta Classical Academy.
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