A man who calls his workers niggers, at his basement workbench late night, emery-buffing a brass pivot for his mantle clock, my grandfather lights another Pall Mall, knocking back Wild Turkey on ice. Remembering what he had seen that morning, on the way to the plant, he uncaps a permanent marker (that smell), squeaking five black letters onto the calendar—S-W-A-N-S—recording their sheet-white arrival like he does every fall.
In this new prose poetry series, Mark McCaig holds up the lamp to family and passions, and reports back to us in a voice at once tremulous and crystalline. His birderwatcher’s Lifelist becomes flexible metaphor, and a kind of universal doorway.
Two nightjars bedevil the darkness, their churring trills a form of demand, filling the black around the country streetlamp’s cone of light, inspiring Plath, sleepless again, to kick off her covers and write Goatsucker, her page incandescent.