Susan McLean

Mrs. Larkin Reflects

They set you up, your thankless brood, to take the blame for all their flaws. Your inhibitions made them rude. They dodge commitment? You’re the cause. But that’s not your fault, they exclaim, for you were screwed up long ago, instilled with hang-ups, fear, and shame in ways that you’re too thick to know. It comforts them to have a mum to blame when life is on the skids. The malice of it makes you glum, but you’ll get yours if they have kids.

Received Wisdom

Unpacking it, we wondered who had sent it and why they felt we needed it. We thought we’d managed fine without it. Had they meant it as tribute or rebuke? We had been taught to view unsought donations with suspicion. Inspecting it, we found a hairline crack. It doesn’t suit our taste or disposition. In short, we must insist they take it back.

Narcissus and Echo

Your form, the hue You of your cheek undo do me. I cannot not resist this ecstasy. see My other self, my enemy, me. you are sublime. I’m Why do you avoid a void my touch? I am delayed laid more than I can bear. bare, I swear I’d know no- you anywhere. where.

Susan McLean

Susan McLean is a professor of English at Southwest Minnesota State University. Her poems have appeared recently in Measure, Mezzo Cammin, Lucid Rhythms, and elsewhere.

Poetry from the October/November 2013 issue of FREE INQUIRY.

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