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 work has appeared in Black Warrior Review, Tupelo Quarterly, American Literary Review, Pithead Chapel, American Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. She lives in California.
The Last Apology is an Orange Cake
The need to hear you came upon me so quick in sleep
I rushed outside, confused & ankle deep in ocean.
What do you say? What is it you always say at moments
like this? Not an apology, not that. Something more like
death isn’t real here or I’ll protect you or another lie
you have to apologize for later when the ocean makes a mistake.
I want to follow your apology to its conclusion
where you are on your knees in front of me &
your hair is in my hands. How did we get here
where our only words are sorry, so sorry, so very sorry?
I bake orange cakes rich with liqueur, I walk the dogs,
I watch people leave church, the park, the motel. I try swimming.
Notice I, I, I. I’m sorry. Absence after absence is presence,
or some such saying. Let me set us some new rules. Darling,
only apologize to me if it’s in a world where my daughters live
unscathed & don’t have to find beauty in brokenness,
where twigs go unsnapped, apples unbitten, shoes stay tied,
glaciers unmelted, cities unburned, bullets stay in the barrel.
Nothing is wild here, but everything is ruined
so why not fuck it all up a little more without
apologizing for it. See? Watch them sleep, watch
how they don’t know we watch, how that not knowing
is the safest place in this world. Let’s try unknowing
some things. Let’s start here: Do you want cake for dinner?
Want to watch the wind take branches down, watch satellites
take the place of every star? What do you say?