February 2000

Rebecca McClanahan


Rebecca McClanahan Rebecca McClanahan  is the author of three books of poetry and  Word Painting: A Guide to Writing More Descriptively (Writer's Digest Books).  She has received the Pushcart Prize, the Wood Prize from Poetry, and the Carter prize for the essay from Shenandoah. Her work has appeared in The Best American Poetry 1998, The Georgia Review, The Gettysburg Review, Kenyon Review, and Boulevard. Her newest book will be published next spring by Copper Beech Press.

Out of Context    Click to hear in real audio

I want to be taken
like a whispered

rumor or a message
broken over water

by telegraph keys.
To be taken out

of this bed, its scrolled
masthead announcing

another decade together,
whole books written

around our words: Do you?
The cat. Mortgage.

Love, let’s lift
the words from our tongues

before they land
in the breakfast cereal,

the sink, on the rake’s
waiting handle, the pile

of rusting leaves. Take them
out, like the song says,

to the ballgame. Or scissor them
from their stories the way

kidnappers ransom
small words innocent in

and of themselves—if    love
money     now
—spelling the end

of life as someone
once knew it. Think of the scenes

waiting to be spliced
from what’s left

on the cutting room floor,
the moments as yet

perfectly unfinished:
shadows splitting, a woman’s

hand reaching, a love cry
sliced in mid-gasp.




Rebecca McClanahan: Poetry
Copyright � 2000 The Cortland Review Issue 10The Cortland Review