Three Poems from The Future: Caely McHale


Mona Lisa

My hands are the last human thing about me.
I keep my fingernails pink.
I arrange them soft like the Mona Lisa.

I imagine delivering a baby, scaled and cold.
Scoop the mucus from his throat!
My hands are the last human thing about me.

My brother’s hands have gone to shit,
Dark and spotted from a magnified sun.
In sleep, I arrange his soft like the Mona Lisa.

I like the way I curve long,
And I like the way I am lifted by currents.
My hands are the last human thing about me.

Her half open eyes meet da Vinci’s
And my lidless disks meet hers.
I arrange my hands soft like the Mona Lisa.

I am too young to lose my beauty.
I paint her nails pink to signify sisterhood.
My hands are the last human thing about me,
I arrange them soft like the Mona Lisa.


A flurry of tadpoles
Began to follow me
                        Around the house I would close the
                                    Door and they would squeeze through the cracks of hinges
                        I imagine the plague of grasshoppers looked like this
                                                                                                                   I sat down and
                                                                                         crushed a dozen of them
                                                                            The rest followed me to the kitchen to
                                    Get the paper towel that would wipe the                                   
            tadpole guts from my ass would serve as their brother’s grave
They nestled into my hair and fell asleep
            Snoring even I wouldn’t have known tadpoles
                        Snore but a couple made a hammock of my eardrums    
                                      When they grew legs I counted their toes kissing
                                                                                                Each one it took hours
                                                            I went on a date and wore them as a necklace
                                                They promised to be quiet I couldn’t bear to leave them
                                    And their backs did shine and their little precious feet linked in
chains around my neck eight times
When their bellies got fat I put them on a diet
                                    As a good mother does and I realized
                                    I felt like their mother and I realized
                                                They couldn’t tell me apart from theirs


We all grew gills to live under
the water, our legs sloughing off like snake
skin to reveal a fresh pink tail which at daybreak
will already start to burn and freckle. Thunder
cracks when Monday’s hurricane
arrives to swallow us, but we have mutated
and robbed the earth of our bodies weighted
by saltwater.

We look like this: soft underbellies that spot in the sun,
                            thick hair over the rest of us. The world’s water is cold.
We look like this: eyes with a thick film, lashes falling out one by one.
                             there is no dust here and no need to blink.
We look like this: delicate hands.
(New hands unfurl and reach out to this new Gaia.)

The apocalypse, with her greedy apoca-lips, seduced us so slowly
it was impossible to resist. We fed that hungry mouth our smoke
our oil our trash our methane aerosol carbon eight course meal
One spoonful at a time. Her unholy
body grew until she blocked out the sun. Her dirty jokes
stopped being funny. We only had to kneel
before her and wait to be eaten too.

Caely McHale is pursuing her MFA in poetry at George Mason University, and lives in Northern Virginia. This is her first publication credit.


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