Cynthia Macdonald, 1928–2015


In Memoriam

Cynthia Macdonald

“Wait in the Chair,” a poem by Cynthia Macdonald, appeared in our Spring 2004 issue. Macdonald, who died earlier this month at eighty-seven, taught for many years at the University of Houston; she was also a psychoanalyst. Richard Howard wrote that she drew her poems “from the grotesque.” “Grotesque comes from the grotto,” she said in an interview: “the grotto is, if you want, the hidden part of everybody … all writing comes from the grotto, whether it comes out as overtly odd or very conventional. So I would agree with that definition. I would say I am interested in strange things that happen, because they seem like a sharpened metaphor of what happens all the time.”


Wait in the Chair

Food for the fat is like air. It fills you up
and lifts you out of the chair whether otherwise
you sit like a dead seal.
                                    But with pastry you soar.
The roar of ignition, the heavy ground recedes.
cares, sorrows sift out and float in air, just
another cloud—whipped cream,
                                    schlag—it does not
tempt you, does not preempt the plans for the day,
those plans which, struck in your chair, you despaired
of effecting.
                        The hopscotch, the basketball game,
the spring green park, animals walking
two by two never needing an ark, babies in prams,
all things bright and beautiful
                                                until, against
your will, you need to eat again. The sky grows
dark. It starts to rain. The park becomes a table
laden with goodies.
                                    Back to the chair and the pain.