Michelle McLean – Three Poems


Daily Bread

In spite of everything, it rises;

In spite of ravaged eyesight,
the rude thud of life’s
new arrangements, it rises –
Aromatic, defiant.

Worked to warmth by hands
that know what nourishes
and sustains;
Hands that know the trick
to shaping comfort
and tending to its ravenous

Waiting warm on the counter for
your youngest son,
a dropped stitch you pick up
again and again, trying
to knit back into our family.

Still learning to navigate the space
between duty and desire,
altruism and appetite,
I watch you pull fresh loaves from the oven,
knuckles like the tips of bone china;
Your body curled into itself
as though to embrace all it has held.

You go by feel, instinct.
Adaptive artistry that helps me believe
I, too, can rise and glow –
Apprentice to the possibility of
sated hunger, trespasses forgiven;
The abundance carried

in trembling hands.


The clementine oranges
you snuck to my room
one night I was sent to bed
without supper
for some now-forgotten crime;
Their clandestine sweetness,
the conspiratorial delight
of your risk –
The way you held my hand,
wiped my tears, and whispered
“It’s not you”.

Lakeside Distillations

Porch swing metronome
pacing the heart;
Brazen hummingbirds
dive bomb feeders,
lunging as we linger
wine-sleepy over
tacit bonds of
just one more.

We, too, clamor
for our nectar; Know something
of hunger.

Summer yawns, almost ready for its nap.
We speak of departures, arrivals –
The strange places where lives meet;

Photographic negative of sky
canopies wistful water
sighing softly toward shore;
Your hand on my leg,
hesitant, now.

We speak of changes,
seasons winding down;

Scanning the horizon for
a different ending
beyond the bloodshot eye
of the setting sun.


Author’s Statement on Beauty

“Either it’ll move me, or it’ll move right through me.” Gord Downie, The Tragically Hip (from Fully Completely)

Beauty, to me, is anything that speaks deeply to mind, body and spirit. It is what moves, inspires, and accurately captures the truths of lived experience. It resonates, radiates and unites.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross says, “People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” In both people and art, I find myself strongly drawn to that which is lit from within.


Michelle McLean is a clinical social worker and compulsive writer of poetry. Her work has found various homes in recent years, including Quills, Understory, JONAH and Ascent Aspirations. She uses poetry to make sense of her experiences and as an instrument of healing. Michelle lives in Bath, New Brunswick with her mother, her partner of 12 years, and their beloved daughters, Sophie and Lily.