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Poems by Grace Cavalieri

Truly a Problem of Reference

      It'll be a poem,
looking at the lines that
go side by side, if there resides a
shadow inside, a form not
too hurried, a little self important seed
sleeping at the center as if it's the only
truth there is.
      One day, you'll be
sitting on the edge of the poem like
a couch, and all across the room is filled
with eternity, all the
people you miss, and more of them
than ever, and the couch is getting so
      crowded, you walk across
the rug and join them. This
moment charms the birds
as they say, out of the trees,
and then you can see the shape inside,
where poetry moves. The desk softens.
      I warm quickly to the task
Immodestly forcing happiness
from everything held captive.
 

GC Acknowledgment =INNISFREE

Alternate Theories

In answering my husband I say, “I only
wonder about ideas I can use in

poetry.” He says this is may be a waste
of wonder. Yes, I realize it is not a fair

market exchange, rationing my thoughts
this way. Here we are walking

in the woods - noticing fern. He says
he can make green herbs grow all

winter long in the kitchen -
the white receptacle by the window

the constancy of a blue
Glo-light - the waters of life dripped

in every day with care.
I say I like this. it’s  lighted

up until morning. Like the moon.
Finally something I can use,

helpful  to me - while writing in the dark -
as nothing can be seen exactly as we describe it.

Garden Party

This isn’t so bad I said two days after you died, Everything’s the same. You’re just not here. Look. I get up and make tea and you’re just not here, that’s all. I go swimming. I shop and I can carry groceries in with just one hand now. I can keep the house tidy and I don’t have to cook. I watch movies. This is the life. Then I called you at 4 for tea. And you didn’t answer. No matter how many times, you still didn’t . Then the cat grew into a dog with pink eyes and shaggy matted fur, the grass already sodden with rain was watered all night with the hose. The people who came talked about the wrong books. I couldn’t make them understand it was the young librarian not the movie critic. You said you’d take the cat to the vet, you said you didn’t care what it cost you’d put new sod down, you said you’d make everyone understand what I was trying to say but then you went so damn far away. I kept calling and calling because I know the dead have memory. I know you remember my name. Everyone is here waiting.

Swan Lake

Having a mother who's a writer is a different grammar
from a mother who bakes cookies and measures table cloths,
That's why my children tugged each other,
after they studied a picture of me
standing on points, satin toe shoes,
a stiff tutu, with a split golden tiara on top my laquered head.
I looked like a silver string had been pumped from
hell to heaven with me in the middle.
Look at mom, they said, how pretty, perfection, every hair in place.
What a disgrace to tell them it was my cousin Marilyn
with the Stuttgart ballet who flew away like a bird to
reclusion and cancer, one lonely autumn day.
 
I, on the other hand, was the one with strangle-tied dirty toe shoes,
the ones with bloodstained toes inside
and never stood still long enough for a photo, much less a pose.
Hair frisking all over, just like now, rushing along,
For a second I thought I'd take the credit and make them all proud.
But for momentary glory, that would rub them wrong. I'll tell them
who I really am, at whatever cost, no satin, nothing to brag about,
--still going strong.
 

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