In Place of an Apology by Meghan McClure


Let me say this, please. Today I ignored the knot of laundry & my daughter’s cry
because sometimes I am the spider & sometimes I am the heel coming down on a spider.

Today I was nothing you wanted & everything I found in the recycling bin. When I do
piece it all together, I will make it pleasing. I will be an open pink mouth & no noise.

The matches you gave me won’t light when I strike them but I refuse to stop trying,
like a child learning the violin near an open window in the summer, Ode to Joy over & over.

I cried at the drop of a spoon this afternoon because it was loud & angry like a parent
when a child returns late & bloodied at the knees. Oh, how distance between what could be

& what is can’t be stitched because where is the goddamn needle & the thread is the wrong
color. My breath smells like wine not because I drank any, but because it’s all going bad,

& when I hold a lit match between my teeth while I chop onions it isn’t to stop the crying
but to fill my eyes with smoke so I can’t see what the onion might mean. Yet, the light

hasn’t ceased to fall across your face after all this time. How do you maintain it?
I could use a gentle lesson in finding somewhere to be. All I can think of though is

there, there, there. Let’s play a game where I disappear right before your eyes. Or maybe
let this discarded list stand in for I’m sorry & pleading. Don’t look at me when I say this:

A man crossed the street ahead of me & when he turned to see the car hit him, the sun
went behind a cloud & a child began to cry & I couldn’t remember the number to call.

How useless I become when it matters. How quickly I can tie a shoe or make soup,
but how slow I am to take your hand, press it to my mouth, let my tongue linger on

each knuckle like a new thread in a spider’s web, trembling with morning dew. Let’s watch
her weave something new while I lace my sorrys into your hair with my voiceless mouth.

Do you see how she eats part of her web at the end of the day? It’s something like that.
Trying, trying, trying & knowing it will never be enough, but rebuilding all the same.


Meghan McClure is author of the chapbook Portrait of a Body in Wreckages (Newfound Press, 2017) and co-author of A Single Throat Opens (Black Lawrence Press, 2017). Her poems and essays have appeared in Black Warrior Review, Water~Stone Review, American Literary Review, Pithead Chapel, American Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. She lives in California.