Catherine Arra


Lessons in Gravity


I. Grandpa

Beside you, patty-caked sanded
in Jones Beach wonderful
to see the ocean first-time imprint—
you and Nana under-brella’d
reading the Daily News.
Had to know, What makes the waves Poppy?
never blinking an eye off that
dredging thunder-swept clean earth’s edge
licking-air tongue curling magic
in and down under
up sea-sizzles foam.
Luna, you said
Italian romancing that ah
holding the oon.
Loonah—the moon.
The Moon? confused croon called
you gave a front-page headline
lesson in polarity:
cradle-handling me
on the edge lingering kick-flicking
salt water toes, wade-walking cold
wet knees, waist
propped up secure forearm-chest
beyond the breaker curls wrap you up
swallow you whole. Seafaring heroes
on a watery steed, we galloped
glimpsed heaven’s crests, roller coasted
down elevator swoon, hurled high rainbow-arced
cow jumps over the moon-earth
force fused you-me
and those waves.

II. Daddy

Used to sneak your brand to backyard dressing rooms
practiced holding it fingernail perfect, ash tip-tilted
paintbrush fine, drawing quick smooth breaths
posing forties sexy Mom stood between you and me.

Even grade-school girlfriends visited bashful
giggles on your playful deeps, wavy full-lipped
power so dark in every boyfriend had to be a piece of you.
Little girl bottom-propped bobbing
on your bass foot leg balancing boom-booms
Dixieland dandies, Erroll Garner’s grunts and yours.

Pubescent pandemonium axed us, two contesting wills
chasing me ‘round tables, running because I could run.
Fifteen years later Mom ran too
her coup de grace left me to mend broken body-soul.

From first-triangle fusion this woman emerged
grateful now for her, two-sided mirror-mentor
and you, blood-jet pulse.



Catherine Arra

Catherine Arra is the author of Slamming & Splitting (Red Ochre Press, 2014), Loving from the Backbone (Flutter Press, 2015) and forthcoming in 2017, Tales of Intrigue & Plumage (FutureCycle Press). Recent poetry and prose appear in Split Rock Review, Blue Fifth Review: Blue Five Notebook Series, and Dying Dahlia Review: Summer 2017 A former English and writing teacher, Arra now teaches part-time and facilitates a local writers’ group in upstate New York. Find her at