The 2River View 28.4 (Summer 2024)

Robert McDonald

In Rosehill Cemetery

In early April I sat on a granite bench at the edge
of a pond,
and looked out
across the water, a stone village
made of obelisks and chapels
and tombs, planted
on the opposite shore.
When something moved in the water, I thought
I was seeing a tree stump, caked
with streamers of algae, spackled
with mud, until a neck stretched out from the dim
mass, extended
and contracted, like a snake.
Two eyes blinked, the submerged log
come to life, and a snapping turtle
the size of a washtub
worked to claw the dinosaur
of its body up
The eel-slick side
of the cemetery pond—
the Viking shield
of its carapace,
the notched blade of its beak,
the mica-glint of granite in those
ancient and lizardy eyes. I wanted
to meet this envoy
from somewhere beyond me.
I stepped two paces forward; what
would this behemoth have to fear?
I wanted her to see me, her body
fashioned from nightmares
and winter mud, But as
I moved forward, she
slid back. Despite
my pretendings, we only have
this one world. She
slid back, and turned, first to ripples,
and then just an imagined
darker space
dark green water.


Hotel, Grasshoppers

On the grounds of the ruined hotel,
in the field that had been the tennis
courts, grasshoppers
leapt and glided on yellow
wings, the dot on their legs a flash
of scarlet. Sometimes

I caught them with a clap of my
hands. Now I was the warden.
In the prison
of the pickle jar,
grasshoppers perched
on the longest stems.

I told myself they’d adapted
and decided
to be happy, because
they would eat
of the grass
I placed there.

Robert McDonald lives with his husband in Chicago, where he works at an independent bookstore. His poetry has appeared in Court Green, Pank, Sentence, Southern Poetry Review, and West Trade Review.
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