What Rough Beast | Poem for October 6, 2017

Catherine Rockwood
Seasonal cheer in the age of climate change, or a brief essay on domestic arts now obtaining

We’re late to every neighborhood party.
Our wreaths don’t go up on time
and we’ve never brought home a wrapped spruce
like a spice-embalmed prince
on a Subaru catafalque.

Once, our plastic tree stayed
in the living room well through March:
the kids were young, and they cried
when we said “it’s the end of the season!”
The tree was fine, they could see that—

they loved its dry snow,
the white lights that came on with a pop
when you punched the floor-switch—
which even small children could do.
So we left it. We’re not monsters,

you and I. And I have to tell you,
I think the world’s catching on, quickly,
to our way of thinking. Today,
on the walk down to school I was getting
two earfuls. “We should be in sync!”

the kids argued, pointing
at harvest-sheaves leaning on doorjambs,
at pumpkins ascending front steps
while a few thin, early grey webs
yawned over the neighborhood shrubbery

waiting for all-weather spiders the size of cats.
“Uh-uh,” I said. “It’s too early.”
“It’s not!” “What will happen to pumpkins,”
I said, “sitting out in this heat?” “Oh.
They’ll rot.”


Catherine Rockwood’s poems have appeared in concīs, The Fem, The Rise Up Review, Liminality, and elsewhere. Her essays and reviews have appeared in The Mom Egg Review, Strange Horizons, and Tin House. She lives in Belmont, Mass.

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