Dotted Line Dotted Line

Poetry Summer 2013    fiction    all issues


Sharron Singleton
Five Poems

Sarah Giragosian
Five Poems

Jenna Kilic
Five Poems

Kristina McDonald
Five Poems

Toni Hanner
Five Poems

Annie Mascorro
Five Poems

Brittney Corrigan
Three Poems

S. E. Hudgens
Four Poems

Ali Doerscher
Four Poems

David Sloan
Three Poems

Olivia Cole
Five Poems

Lucy M. Logsdon
Four Poems

Marc Pietrzykowski
Four Poems

Donna Levine Gershon
Five Poems

Eva Heisler
The Olden Days

Stephanie Rose Adams
Five Poems

Jill Kelly
Five Encounters

Ben Bever
Five Poems

Michael Hugh Lythgoe
Five Poems

Arlene Zide
Three Poems

Harry Bauld
Five Poems

Lisa Zerkle
Four Poems

Peter Mishler
Five Poems

Tim Hawkins
Five Poems

Marqus Bobesich
Four Poems

Abigail Templeton-Greene
Five Poems

Eric Duenez
Five Poems

Anne Graue
Five Poems

Susan Laughter Meyers
Five Poems

Peter Kahn
Two Poems

D. Ellis Phelps
Five Poems

Linda Sonia Miller
The Kingdom

Nicklaus Wenzel
Skagit River

Holly Cian
Five Poems

Susan Morse
Five Poems

Daniel Lassell
Five Poems

Svetlana Lavochkina
Temperate Zones

Daniel Sinderson
Three Poems

Catherine Garland
Five Poems

Michael Fleming
Five Poems

Kristina McDonald

After you leave for work, I contemplate the shovel

Clearly visible through the kitchen

window, a shovel leans

against the fence. The yard

of our city apartment is nearly

nine square feet and everything

I’ve tried to grow has died

so you joked that I was Queen Midas,

that I could kill anything with a touch,

which didn’t make much sense

but I laughed because it was better

than not laughing but I stopped

touching the garden although

I didn’t stop touching you.

It’s a brand new shovel

and the dirt looks undisturbed

and as I let the coffee burn

I wonder what it is

you’re planning to bury.

The Lost Girls

It’s hard to run with a shield in one hand,

but we get used to the extra weight.

The point isn’t to hide.

We wear our motherlessness

on our chests, like Athena,

born in full armor, raised

by a father. We don’t

use the word abandoned.

People know our story so well, they forget

they know our story.

We like the feel of dirt

and rocks and we sleep

under trees and never talk

about our feelings.

The point isn’t to feel, either.

Which is why, when we find

the well-worn teddy bear

stashed under branches,

a note saying Love, Mom

tied to its paw,

we burn it.

Which is why

I didn’t tell them

it was mine.

When the Dog Bites

It’s one of those things that happen to other people

and besides, I’d always wanted a puppy

so I stopped to say hello and was distracted

by the gathering saliva, the darkness

of its lips, the sudden

wrongness of it all

so when its jaw clamped down

at first, there was only silence

and a warm empty feeling.

I wanted to disappear.

I started singing an old children’s song

but I couldn’t remember the words

so I closed my eyes and pictured my mother

in the kitchen the day she said

girls in white dresses

should never be caught

lying on their backs

stirring the stars at night

with their tongue.

She had a knife in her hand at the time

though I couldn’t quite remember why

and when I opened my eyes I could see

the blood seeping through the grass.

I don’t know at what point he let go

and later, when the doctor asked me

what happened, I told him it was just

an accident. It was nobody’s fault

but my own.

A daughter should know the answer

In Australia, they cover corpses

with leaves. Slow erasure of organs,

of skin. In Andorra, it is the law

to ask every body you find

lying face down, Are you dead?

Are you dead? Are you dead?

A girl walks into the desert. She can smell

the morning’s carrion and she understands

this is how time passes. Fingers lengthen

but have less to hold. Overhead, vultures circle

and she needs them to land. She needs to ask

if they’ve seen her mother.

It takes over two thousand days to mummify

the self, like they used to do in Japan.

She wonders if her mother’s hidden somewhere,

only a thousand days from death.

A person isn’t missing

if she disappears

on purpose.

A girl walks into a museum

full of skeletons. She needs to know

why skulls always look like

they’re smiling.

A woman hides in the bathroom

of a funeral home, washing off

her mother-face. She shakes hands

with a cadaver, says, If anyone asks,

I wasn’t here.

My foot is stuck in the mirror again

and I can’t stop staring at the two five-fingered bruises on my neck, pulsating like some ghost is trying to open a door in my throat. Behind me, a mask on the wall is hiding another mask, almost forgotten but in the reflection I can make out both sets of lips whispering, You have to let go. But I notice my foot is getting sleepy so I spin it a story about a house the shape of a head and inside the house, a wolf, inside the wolf, a man I once loved before I learned every mouth holds a secret and every hand makes a fist and somewhere in this story someone or something died savagely at the tooth of another. My father hated his own face and my father’s father used to smash everything around him before he disappeared mysteriously one night, not unlike my mother although not before she stood me in front of a mirror with my first make-up kit and said, You’re the one who looks at your reflection. You’re not the one who looks back.

Kristina McDonald received her MFA from Eastern Washington University, where she was the poetry editor of Willow Springs. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Narrative, New Guard Review, Switchback, and Sugar House Review. She has worked for the literary non-profits Writers in the Schools and Get Lit! Programs, and she currently works at Rice University.

Dotted Line