Bio Note: I am a travel writer and have visited more than 60 countries; I often write outtakes from my precise and informative articles to include close ups of guides and locals' stories. The pandemic tethered me to a more or less fixed spot in the world and a fellowship from the Academy of American poets thrust me into other people's lives and faces where sharing and listening are the keys to an existence outside myself. Recent work appears in Big City Lit, Mom Egg Review, and New Verse News. My chapbook about mental illness, The Man with a Plan is pending publication.
… and along roadsides, a festival of deep yellow ginestra, the word “detachment” hovers. Time to step away from poppy red leather bound books tight-fisted and jammed on his shelves, time to let shirts fly as free as banners, better worn now by younger men seeking work, and shoes the better to step into summer, fall, winter with certainty. Birds dive into jasmine wreaths draping walls and fences where bees gather soulful honey. Boisterous are magpies’ robust bodies after winter, bound with pride, knowing where they’re going, how to get there during this your favorite month.
as the winter sky cools on its way to night. You ask me “… before you go, can you …” And I do. Unwilling to go, needing to go, I organize items on the table, as if anointing them for you, talk you through the maze of meds, the need to eat something, anything all day. I swirl and spin the hospital furniture -- the walker, the tables into place. Your prayer books next to the phone, small laboratory cups of mouth washes for who remembers why there are three of them. I make my way to Second Avenue, chase the subway car, look up to see a woman giggling. I must have missed a transient, funny incident on the platform. She wants me to join her, I do, smile back, blink and recall the last thing you asked. “Would you take a hot cloth, wash my face …” as my grandmother did on cold mornings knowing each child would tiptoe on chilled wooden planked floors as my mother did for me to gentle me into mornings. I reach my stop and think quite possibly, I forgot to warm your face as night falls in a place where the weather never changes, where you live just for me.
Originally published in SHREW, issue 10
©2022 Maria Lisella
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