Ways to Divide


Ways to divideWater and Blood


The flat plain between the peaks

of your ribs: a divide. Your divide.  Our divide.


The word divide as a place comes from watershed

which can mean either water or blood.


Water pools where the earth dips

and we can’t cross without much work,


but everything grows dense there

and animals huddle round.


There are spaces in our body

where we send blood from two places,


and isn’t that always the thing:

is this good or bad? It depends


on whether the blood is flowing

or has run up against a clot.


Which side are we on?

We all live with this division.




The bones of your body

are in golden relationship to one another.


Your wrist divides

the hand and forearm at the golden section.


A line runs your body

in numerical constancy.


Mosques and temples

are built with the same glittering precision.


The divine proportion

extends to DNA I could scrape from your skin.


And no matter

the way I try to divide us, it is unequal


and somehow, golden.  How can this be

both the beginning and the end?


We go both ways in equal directions.

Split evenly, right down the middle.




I learned to draw human faces

by gridding them off.  For a while, every person


I met became a set of lightly drawn squares

and eraser crumbs.  I contemplated


every face as a solution to a problem

that I hadn’t named yet.  Complex


enough, but not apparent at the outset.

Your face is still gathering squares


and I will keep trying to shade them in

until it looks like you.




They seem so stable, until

you start slicing at them


and they get off balance

like getting out of an empty bed,


walking into the kitchen where you

aren’t and pouring one cup of coffee.


At the start, I felt perfectly formed

from irrational numbers, the way


a circle is divided

by straight lines.


Undone, the way you touched

those lines and the whole shape


of me shivered. And now

I am just cut through and tired.




The cells in our bodies

divide trillions of times


before we die. But even cells know

they can’t go on forever. They have


enzymes to tell them enough is

enough, you are no longer sufficient.


Human cells understand

that leaving parts of you behind


means becoming less than you were.

And now we face that.


The enzymes telling us it is time,

the unraveling has begun.




We’ve passed through

the Great Divide Basin,


the car hot, asphalt shimmering

like the sea, yet


high desert all around:

sand and salt flats


where so much water decides

which way to go.


Meghan McClure lives in Washington and studied at the Rainier Writing Workshop, the MFA program at Pacific Lutheran University.  She helps edit A River & Sound Review and her work has been published in Mid-American Review, LA Review, Water~Stone Review, Superstition Review, Bluestem, and Floating Bridge Review, among others.