Kelli Russell Agodon

In the 70’s, I Confused Macramé and Macabre


I wanted the macabre plant holder
hanging in Janet and Chrissy’s apartment.
My friend said her cousin tried to kill himself
by putting his head through the patterns
in his mother’s spiderplant hanger, but
the hook broke from the ceiling and he fell
knocking over their lava lamp, their 8-track player.
His brother almost died a week later when
he became tangled in the milfoil at Echo Lake.
I said it could have been a very
macramé summer for that family.

When I looked outside for sticks to make a God’s Eye
to hang on my bedroom wall, I found a mouse
flattened, its white spine stretching past its tail.
And a few feet from that,
a dead bird with an open chest,
its veins wrapped tightly together.
This neighborhood with its macramé details
crushed into the street. I wanted
my mother to remind me
that sometimes we survive.
But when I returned to my house
it was empty, except for the macabre owl
my mother had almost finished, its body left
on the kitchen table while she ran out to buy more beads.



Kelli Russell Agodon’s poem “In the 70’s, I Confused Macramé and Macabre”  was previously published in Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room (White Pine Press, 2010), winner of the ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Prize in Poetry and a finalist for the Washington State Book Award. Her other poetry collections are  Small Knots (2004), and the chapbook, Geography (Floating Bridge Press, 2003).  Kelli is also the co-editor of Fire On Her Tongue: An eBook Anthology of Contemporary Women’s Poetry.