Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tuesday Poem: previously published by Fox Chase Review in 2009

First The Heart Goes 

Then the head.
The way it was  
with the ruffed grouse
you found in the backyard,
knocked out of the sky,
windfall for some night hawk.

And Nana too --
caught mid-flight
by too much loss and sorrow.

Of course, you bent to study it,
poor thing, filled, as you are, 
with reverence for beauty 
that never lets you 
close enough 
to see more than 
a quiver and blur.

Wasn’t she like that too --
quicksilver;  couldn’t sit still?

Overnight its chest came up empty,
hollow and dry as a cave;
the tribe that once lived there
fleeing, feathers left blowing.

Her heart, torn apart early on: 
a piece for each of her husbands,
the rest shredded the day your mother died.
How she wept, and asked God,
why hadn't he taken her first?
When they said she couldn't
drive any more, she told you she 
felt cavernous as an empty house.

And just one more day
for the body to abruptly
stop at the neck, mindless
as you were, lured by the long 
tail feathers, the golden ruffs,
bending over this bloodless thing
to pull them out. How easily 
the body lets them go.

In the tiny senior citizen’s 
apartment, she began to pace
and couldn’t stop crying,
burned her dinners,  forgot
how to take her pills.

Listen to you: making crow sounds,
as you spread desire’s shadow
across these relics of a 
radiance you yearn for.
Until you've taken
all you can, fetching
shovel and rake to
bring the leavings back
to the clean-up crew
in the woods.

So little left, by the time she died
in the nursing home. Just the scalloped
gold wedding band, that fits on
the end of your pinky,
and a little pile of pictures,
you keep in a drawer by your bed.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tuesday Poem: previously published in the anthology, Paterson: A Poet's City, in 2005

                                                Dialogue, 2011 by Liliana Porter

Paterson, New Jersey: The Girls 

On Cedar and Summer Streets

had names like songs,
like arias in fact,
that rose and fell
in handfuls of confetti
across the sun.

Santa and Rosa,
tucked like a holy picture inside your missal,
Teresa, Angela, Gracia,
church bell glitter falling
like the angels as they sing us into evening,
Sylvia, Stella, Maria
gleaming in moonlight.

Immaculata Concepcione! 
Palmyra! Preciosa!
Like hymns the mother’s voices
rang down the sidewalk
and girls we called Connie and Pam and Sina
dropped the end of the jump rope
and became a soft percussion of steps,
a murmur of acquiescence,
the creak of a screen door.

Christiana who got to watch the nuns eat in the convent
because her mother cooked for them,
Carmella carrying altar lace,
Caterina celestial in her wedding cake Sunday dresses,
Cosmina and Mariana graceful as boats adrift at sea.

All of them except me.

Ei -----leen !
My mother bellowed,
with an emphasis on the “eye”,
her voice at full tilt,
rain-lashed and battered
as the Irish cliffs in a storm,
smoky as their pubs every night of the week.

The street went silent all of a sudden,
As the girls I turned my back on made the sign of the cross,
and I took the longest way home I could.