Tanis MacDonald | BESIDE

What lives beside us, passing for air?
— Tracy K. Smith, Life on Mars

A stutter-self, a shadow without edge,
a last echo, mitochondrial must,
every question I don’t want knowledge
of or an answer to. What lives in dust

motes and skin cells, in water vapor pushed
hot from my lungs and past my nasal spur?
Beside me, sometimes, in the deft and rushed
disguise of an idea, sleek brain-blur,

mind-meld, earworm, cold ashes and mildew,
ancestral gravel and rain gulping air,
heron rising from reeds to flight: it’s you,
slow-motion, perpetual blue spectre.


Tanis MacDonald is the author of Straggle: Adventures in Walking While Female (Wolsak & Wynn, 2022) and six other books. She lives near Laurel Creek ON.