Zarah McGunnigle

Three Poems

Lack of fur and feathers to say more of the right things, the body hidden inside a hard shell composed of dismay, winter, and cigarettes. Synthesis mistaken for original thought. Three shells later, to respond to anecdotes like a child placated with sugar or television, then eventually shunted back to the lungs, forced to reach into caverns for myths. The cupboard lights up when I open the door, perhaps this is enough, sterility guaranteed unless opened, that I am defined by the features I lack rather than by those I possess. Nevertheless, when there are no options there are still options. And do I remain cold when I don’t move? One day I knew. Principles are not without chimneys. Inside the centre, returning as cartilage rather than bone, you are following, so I keep walking.


And there was no return of the walls to the region or the rearrangement of grief into sculpture. Apology’s easier than permission, he said. The calendar had been discarded because it displayed time as vertical, not horizontal. And what next? Burning easier than therapy? But for who? Everyone looks the same, from a distance. Even when we stop observing, the whole continues, not just in any way, but in a certain way. Without walls, a roof is difficult. Close by, they also look the same, because I have placed the gift inside brackets, as if I’d been counting stones for years. If I curve to accommodate, do I set a table, a date, a blancmange, or clay?


Rupture, then, is an attempt at argument rather than explanation, that you are not a stop but a pause, and still capable of red, disruption early morning. Here, an opening means an exit, not an entry, and the figurative is placed to fill the gap in understanding. Of course, a pause may be confused for a stop if there are no written records, and activity is hidden. Validity never guarantees conclusion, this other way of marking time, or burning it, or masking it. That the lungs are not ready for.

Zarah McGunnigle lives in Auckland, New Zealand, and is currently a student at the University of Auckland. Her poems have appeared in journals such as Landfall, Snorkel, and Colorado Review. She was the featured poet for Poetry NZ #39.
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