Convalescent Summer

It was a summer under glass. Summer in a snow globe,
shaken dapples of sunlight instead of flakes.
Summer, fragile on a knickknack shelf.


The birds seemed animatronic; cock of bead-eyed head,
every wing ruffle, contrived. Artful contrails swirled
across my windowed blue. An arrangement of cumulus.


Piped in: the drone of lawns that mowed themselves.
Clover and boxwood, glossy but null. Scentless.
Red dirt unturned by worms. The ozone tang I craved


was merely an anodyne to dissolve upon the tongue.
The curtains billowed only because I breathed in and out;
the minutes beat because I held my fingers at a pulse point.


My skin was as white as bone-colored January. There was nothing
but this day and then the next one. At the end of each, I tallied
with a tick mark to show how far from myself I had come.

Melanie McCabe is the author of three collections of poems, most recently The Night Divers (Terrapin Books), which was a finalist for the 2023 Library of Virginia Literary Awards. Her memoir, His Other Life: Searching For My Father, His First Wife, and Tennessee Williams, won the University of New Orleans Press Lab Prize. Her poems and essays appear in the Washington Post, the Georgia Review, the Threepenny Review, Shenandoah, the Massachusetts Review, and many other journals.