Kate McNamara – Antigone

McNamara LE P&W September 2023

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing September 2023

Antigone, poems by Kate McNamara.


So it begins a season of death
Unburied brothers howl
Upon the red field
Creon a dog for power

Fingered gums the thin moon of winter
Bones of grass, slow gnashing earth crows of memory and war waiting
And we stay watching
In the silver dead time.

I imagine Antigone of Thebes
That dread daughter
With her high head looking at us
As the hut of stone walls waits
She glows among the funeral hills.


The curlews are dying
their ravaged cries haunt
the thin thin thread
of time bleached bones
in the salt swamp
old bays glazed with brine
decorous in mud and shells.

That vast migration they
are compelled to undertake
the V of their flight
imperious as they fade
as they fly starving
on the wing starving
as they travel an ancient map
of stars and sun and moon.

Flying on wings that edge the dark
those pinion feathers
speeding through the last
of the dying light and
thousands and thousands of miles
and years encrypted in their eyes
their claws their power.

Soon we who have murdered them
will no longer see
nor hear that aching call feel
the darkest line of their movement
clearest feathers of flight
breaking the edges of light
of love and beneath them
earth barren polluted dead.

Flying and starving quivering
they move through our minds through time
and we as cunning as any predator
as indifferent as fools
we fail to see their loss will be
as nothing another apocalypse.

But for the curlews they may yet
transcend all surviving us
flying on the other wind into another world,

© Kate McNamara

Her poetry, short fiction and critical theory has been published in a number of anthologies including There is No Mystery (ed. K Kituai, 1998), The Death Mook (ed. Dion Kagan, 2008) These Strange Outcrops(2020) and The Blue Nib (2020) She has also worked extensively as an editor and has only recently returned to her first great love, poetry. McNamara is currently working on The Burning Times.

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