Please go. Words uttered like a benediction, as though time had not curled onto itself and unfurled itself on the floor like the tendril of skin from an apple. Don’t we all aim to be elegant in that way? Whose sin was this? The key around your neck and your grandmother waits in her old world worry. You trace the arc of his cheekbones, the filigree webbing of his dark eyes and match them to your own. Eyes closed. Shoulders back. The door ajar. The want of recognition is a noisy cabal with rabid adherents if it is nothing at all.
The body is prone to blush when the moon wanes gibbous. One expects great things or full-on disaster. Thumb the Bible, and trace your finger along the spine of an ancestor. Pick a side. There are ghosts that have been seated at the Sunday dinner table for years, unacknowledged. One can count the souls two by two until they can’t anymore. Forks are laid down gently and plates are scraped. When the father closes his eyes and sets his jaw, they will all scatter. The mother scrubs the bones in the porcelain sink clean, then goes out back to cull the persistent seedbed of truth.
In the time it took to find you, we have settled on sunset standards and fuller lips. We have quelled our jealousy of sacrificial women who know their place and kicked up the dust of everyone who has gone before us. We must deal with knowing they rest uneasy. We have lost layers and forgotten our language, but acquired a great respect for natural phenomena. We broke stones when we imagined you. Let our blood flow like rampant rivers. Ran our collective mouths like crooked feet, destined to go without.
Michelle Reale is an associate professor at Arcadia University. She holds an MFA in poetry and is the author of nine collections of poetry. Forthcoming collections are Confini: Poems of Refugees in Sicily (Cervena Barva Press) and Season of Subtraction ( Bordighera Press) and will be published in 2019. Reale is the founding and managing editor of Ovunque Siamo: New Italian-American Writing.