Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

What They Must Think

Matthew R. McDonald

In mid-October, heralded by the
Chill breezes sometimes buffeted, often
Allowed costless passage by brown coats
Too patched and bare to halt Boreas,
Or the thick chimney smoke winding curls
Around my neck, pulling a dull scarf tight,
I saw the first of three trees altered by
Orange, brittle leaves into a metaphor.
It seemed solemn in its isolated
Swath of failing cover, shimmering flakes
No longer fit to provide full shade or
Yield pungent secretions in a crushed hand,
Consuming blank noses with fiery bits
Of jade sapping--of clear-green blood easing
Adhesively over pale flesh that peels.
Trees evoke glacial notions of humans
In the transcendence of ill autumn and
Dead winter, arms broken outward, scarecrow’d
By rusting nails and damp planks slackly roped.
The trunk is now bones, structure supported
By muscles of bark that would sprout fibrous
Leaves, skin stretched taut and knuckled white by wood.
Wind-lashed and picked clean by bold ravens black
In feathers sticking to the remnants of
Hollow eyes plucked well of floating thoughts and
Hair dry as straw ignited by twilight,
The slipping seasons drop leaves and fresh hide,
Alike, flaying the still shards, the iced blood
That shatters in closely bound razors too
Arctic for cubes to melt in warm cider.


Matthew R. McDonald is sixteen years old and a student at Station Camp High School in Gallatin, Tennessee. Matthew says, "A southern life has both spawned and enriched my obsession with words, directing my will to express the eternal country in light and in darkness."


© Matthew R. McDonald

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2012