A new poem by Donald McGrath



She gave him
the cardboard core of a toilet roll
bound with two lengths of red yarn
tied into elegant bows and containing
the filigree skeleton of a denuded leaf.
They were sitting under a tree in full bloom.

Her guileless way of saying goodbye
possessed, admittedly, a certain poignancy.
She’d snapped
the yarn from a ball she’d been using
to knit herself a cosy undergarment
for the coming winter.

He considered telling her
that giving a toilet roll to one you’re flushing
was perhaps not all that appropriate.
But he let it go and let
his head droop to a dramatic angle
and dragged his steps in real and affected pain
toward Park Avenue.


When he told her it wasn’t going to work out between them,
she told him that when she got upset
baby food was the only thing she could keep down.
So that was how he found himself, at 3:00 a.m.,
picking Gerber jars off shelves
in an all-night supermarket
to a muzak rendition of Nat King Cole’s
Mona Lisa. Back at his apartment, she asked him
if he’d be kind enough to feed her. He complied,
licking the spoon at the end of each jar.