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Poem | Laura McCullough | THE MALE MUSE

I loved all the poems, but my favorite is Laura McCullough’s “The Places We All Have Been,” in which the female speaker looks at the male as full person—a distinction you so eloquently make in your intro. Laura McCullough’s description of the vet, in fact, includes little of his physical description and instead she focuses on the discounted paint in Home Depot and the affection he enjoys with his dog. Laura McCullough’s ends her poem with a stunning observation about emotional connection and empathy, reframing the “female gaze.”
— Denise Duhamel

The Places We Have All Been

My neighbor is selecting paints

from the sale rack at Home Depot,

small rejected containers,

finger prints of the colors inside

that weren’t quite right—indigo instead

of cerulean, blush instead of carmine.

After two tours in Iraq, he has a companion

dog who goes with him everywhere.

Lately, he’s been painting birdhouses

he sells on Etsy for $19.99.

I think about the choices we all make

and about made and salvaged things.

As I watch, he lays down on the floor

of the aisle and embraces his dog.

I’ve never seen him touch another human

and never saw him do this with his dog before.


Once I would have looked away

or taken my cart to another aisle,

but instead watch, and what ripples in my body

isn’t fear or loneliness but makes me want

to get down on my knees and beg

for something. 

Read more poems from the Male Muse in PoetsArtists #82