Saturday, November 1, 2014

Grace Cavalieri


The box of Cheerios is empty—
the one you put your hand in, to grab a scoop,
that box is gone now.
I threw it out. Your trousers were on  
The closet floor. I picked them up and hung them back.

I saw you sitting on the bed
holding them to fold—
which was your way—
on the proper hangers bought especially
 to hang garments in a perfect row.
I thought you were gone but you were right there on the side of the bed
holding the beige beach trousers we bought in Baltimore.
I was afraid I’d lost my wallet when I was out, but if you were home
all this time, it must be safe somewhere.
Did you know
the plant that blooms each year
wild with red flowers signaling our Key West trip,
did not bloom?

If you could see me now at the kitchen counter
with a glass of our best red wine
eating a ham sandwich, you’d smile and pull your own glass
from the freezer and pour yourself a drink.
Here is the woman who would peel mushrooms at dawn to
cook all day long, now standing up to eat at the kitchen sink.
Your cell phone‘s disconnected,
that was the toughest one. I thought you’d call,
but what kind of transmission can  be up there
where you must be – somewhere behind the sun.
Shall I tell you of the perfect round of light
that goes on above my bed at night
with no reflected source that I can see?
I know you’re trying to reach me but mystery lights
are not enough.
The doctor says, you have to feel to heal but what would he think
of the paradox wrapped around my heart, spinning its sick limerick-
over and over again,  
you who were so full of life have me/ I who am afraid of death have you.

© Grace Cavalieri


“I see the light on the mountain”
You said, your last words.
“Tomorrow I’m going home
And mat that new painting
And start my Bas relief of
Chuck Klusmann escaping from
The POW camp, show how he got
Through the barbed wire, leaving
All that pain, imagine the jungle
But he was finally free to go
Not knowing
What came next, but not caged in.”

© Grace Cavalieri
from “The Man that Got Away”


 If I were lying in a boat in a wedding gown would you see me floating by
If I named a star after you would you lie in the grass looking up
If I lived in a white house would you come sit on my front porch
If I were caught in a bad dream would you please wake me up
If I had a plaid blouse would you help me button it
If I could jitterbug would you do the double dip
If I were a red cardinal would you hold out a sunflower seed
If I caught all the fireflies in the world would you give me a big jar
If the night nurse forgets to come would you bring me a glass of water
If I have only minutes to look at the silky moon will you come get me

© Grace Cavalieri
from “The Man that Got Away”


I don’t know about dropping a full bottle of wine on the pavement in Pisa
Or both leaving our hats in the locker room in Maryland on the same day
Or talking about our neighbor in West Virginia who killed his cat
As we stand hand in hand looking
At the milk of the moon shining on the whole world
I alive— you dead—saying if this could happen, anything could.

© Grace Cavalieri
from “The Man that Got Away”


I am tired of your crying, caring for your own comfort.
Self compassion was never meant for animals
 and yet you try
 pushing your pile of papers as if it were a blanket,               
making the familiar strange,
like artists do, to manage grief.
You have to know someone before you can forget him, and
what, tell me, did you know—
only that he is dead—
and worse, that but he’s no longer young.
Too much to think about. Two in one.
I see confusion feasts upon your heart and how you wake up with a start:
Dreaming of Las Vegas? Where no birds live? What a howl of loss
you give—and who could blame you.
Now you roll in a pastiche of sand pissing in full view,
your clawing  and moaning uncluttered by morality
walking out your jungle box veiled in dust.
Listen—you have no uplifting memories of the world with him,
so how can you fake grief, or is it emptiness disguised as hunger
that makes you eat and eat.
It has been one month now that we were left alone.
Each night the light goes on and off and on until
you push it from off the table, and I don’t blame you.
The spirit world does not
Interest me either as it knows nothing of our mourning.
How I wish I could curl up like you
into a ball of fur, purring with belief that
he’d come upstairs at any moment. Surely this is what you think and why not—
you didn’t  see the machine he was hooked  to before his death,
 tubes with lights blinking on and off until his body begged itself free.
How can you help but believe— if you wait long enough—
he’ll fill your bowl again and pick you up to hold.
Poor dumb creature, foolish and confused, how I pity you,
for soon you’ll find for certain, in spite of your best fears,
I am all that you have left.

© Grace Cavalieri
from “The Man that Got Away”


My Monk in the machine! Talk to me. Anything,
Tell me how it breathes for you, pumping
against your will. Tell me how you love heavy metal,
my pilot, my race car driver, my sculptor,
how you want to get your hands on it, make it move,

fly, shape and burnish it. I see you know—it’s winning,
This is the one thing you cannot bend, 
but if I know you, and I do — you’ll die trying for command.
What am I now? A chess piece on a flat glass floor, breaking beneath
my feet. A note in a bottle uncorked, unread—

Your hands on my neck so transparent
I could see through them in my sleep,
as I move into the city of windows lying at my feet.
I am the only 3rd dimension
on a flat map world—

unless you’ll rip the tubes out, breathe on your own, before
I leave to turn back one last time.
Please call out to me. Say something, Tell me who I am now.
Even Lot’s wife must have had a name before
they called her Salt.

© Grace Cavalieri

from “The Man that Got Away”


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