Every Living Thing on Earth
When you’re up to your neck in shit, all you can do is sing.
I remember everything, cracking
the ceiling with my laugh
in a fit of Septembers.
All those rank autumns flying
from my gut–you’d never know
the seasons I spent in a room
without furniture, the blinds
like verses sewing my mouth shut.
The carceral flophouse, landlord
who tried to take my body
in exchange for room, the hallway
masturbators, the grandmother
who kept me up at night shouting
my biblical fate for not remaining pure.
When you’re up to your neck in shit,
all you can do is scream.
On days without food, the supplication
of breast and limb grew close as hunger,
even then I was a neon woman
attending your hands,
and when I had the nerve and whiskey
to sing, no blues.
Now, even my dreams are humble.
Hard and simple as teeth.
I know why the story they give
us of teenage Mary is the one
of giving birth in straw & shit,
Joseph smiling at the infant’s face
stained with afterbirth, and before,
every night her prayer rising:
By Mary Alice MacDonald
Mary Alice MacDonald is a poet living in Raleigh, North Carolina. She graduated from the University of Louisville but has presently ghosted academia and has no idea what to do in life but write. Her work can most recently be found in Rust + Moth.