Matador Review

A Quarterly Missive of Alternative Concern

Sarah McCann

"Fukushima Leaks"

Radiation is my daughter's nickname
where they've relocated us, and we live
on the outskirts of town
because our neighbors built

a wall when we moved in.
The fish are fearless here
close to the surface, nursing
the turbulence of sky.

The mountains roar
and worry vies for height
with them.  My daughter's
classmates cross the street

from her, give even her dress,
the one we sewed together,
a wide berth.
Sight stills at each tide,

and there is fear everywhere
in this new town.
At one edge of town,
us.  At one edge of town

the fish boil up each crest
like burbling geysers
and the fishermen are no more
allowed nets.

The fish are all bad, aberrant,
but the fish can't care.
For the first time, they feel release.
Sovereign, they own the ocean.

Minikin prayers rest gingerly
in half-hearts.  The people look
to the thinning sky,
to the mountains,
the sea,

and avoid our gaze.  We float.
We ghost about.
And linger
where we have lost our names.

Where we have new ones not ours
and no one will touch us
where they put us.
I count pieces of rice

each midday tracing the sun
across the wall, waiting till
my daughter returns from school.
Not full of learning
but full of want.

The teacher counts heads
but avoids laying her hand on
my daughter's.  The children notice
such things, as they always do.

She curls into dream and taunts
flick her feet in sleep. Her breaths
company like a sickly, hobbling dog.
She only gets older here.

Where I am no longer a nurse.
Where the fish nurse the sky.
Where the floods burn.
Where our burns mean nothing.

"The News from Latournelle"

Lekol closed
this Tuesday,
no teachers
from now on.  
The building swollen
with lost
kids, still coming,
combed, uniformed
tatters, scummed-
up fresh, loud,
shiny bonjous.
Still the flag
staggers up
the twine in

Embezzlers working
for the Church
set off
their guffaws
like alarms,
get driven
to the next
to lick a
to survey
how far
the crack
has traveled
in the school wall,
to walk through
what's not done.

I sit back from all this.
A standard Haitian
dog, medium color, medium-
aged, stares at me, medium,
the only one who will
throw her a look
or a cracker.  Under cover
of dusk, creeping, hunched
hoping to smooth
past the creaks, nightingale
-by-earthquake boards, I
undo my shirt pocket, spill
the crumbs precious
over the dust, and the chen,
won over, and so plain,
treats me like nothing
seen before, an alien, and
follows me for the week.  
No one can know
I've done this.  

My sin follows me,

Sarah McCann has been a Writing Fellow at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop and has worked around the world. She has been published and has work forthcoming in such journals as The Bennington Review, Margie, The Broken Bridge Review, Midway Journal, The South Dakota Review and Hanging Loose. Her poetry has also appeared in Thom Tammaro's anthology, Visiting Frost: Poems Inspired by the Life and Work of Robert Frost and an anthology from the Academy of American Poets, New Voices.

Her translations from the Modern Greek into English have been recognized by the Fulbright Foundation with a grant and published in such anthologies and journals as Austerity Measures, Words Without Borders, Poetry International, and World Literature Today. She has also had the pleasure to edit a collection of poetry from the late American poet Robert Lax, Tertium Quid, and a book of her translations of the Greek poet Maria Laina is available from World Poetry Books through the University of Connecticut.