Grace Cavalieri


I wanted to say something which
at the heart would be
consoling, large and beautifying
about the end of a
life shared. How
terrible and careful
the last years are,
and how we could⎯
had we known more⎯
probably not done better.
The counterpane of serenity,
mostly ruffled, thrown off,
crumples on the
floor, but there was
more and I'm too late
to list it all but for
this small goodbye and to say
thank you, please don't cry.


For Jan

These are the eyes the world made,
With language tracing outside of gravity, its
Hurts wandering like tongues of lace.

Yes there is divine fruit growing from the wound,
Yes petals thread love like a vine bending
The surface of our seasons, remarkable, broken.

More than anything I'll think of laughter as
The shapely flight, as the way humans pray for loss.
More than most I will admire that sweet blue air.

We can call this world a sphere animals walk as guests,
Say this is a natural garden we fell into, out of,
The bare mountains, the mist, the landscape.

But on this pretty and perfect land a seed
Came to fire, flaming the meaning of memory.
What more is there in the law of love?


My father's body was a simple letter
Spelling Sundays with colors arriving
And yet denying God's radiance. What
Could open a calm within him?
What could bless him?
Attaching keys to spin him home?
He thought his own hands were
Enough for holding stars.
Eternity and children also arrived to surprise his despair.
Places since then welcomed him dying
With black imaginings
Filling the house like dark milk and browning pears.

His arms were words lifting up the dead every five minutes
Opening himself to glory, finally
Or that must have been another person,
Who knew the purpose of happiness, not my dear sad father.


Wings down, the woodthrush
Hits the window lost
In the floating difference
Of shadow and light,
The yellow climb broken
From the mouth of his
Neck a broken mass,
A river of death.

It flew from the fine
Flicker of trees through
An Autumn epoch without dread,
The special prize, a
Pane of glass which professed
Sky, graying solitude before it died, we held
It, placed among the hard flowers.


The child sits in her robes and crowns, through the tall winter.
From the dollhouse here the cold room unravels
the difference between real and toy.
The world is
gone with the miracle of fingers filled with tiny velvet.
The closet keeps the silence of the room and all decorations below in the
parlor⎯aunts, uncles⎯visitors⎯do not compare
with the beauty of the small table of wood,
its cup that holds one drop, the painted saucer.
Where should the red aproned wife stand?
She can move her wooden arms.
This is a carved chiseled mother, in a domain of paint.
In this province that is morning, there is not yet school, a road, a self for the
Hope cannot fly away from a cabin of sturdy dolls in their two-inch rooms.
There is blue outside everywhere, but in the blind hall, painted eyes are open.
Dolls sit in a place beyond the procession of ordinary mortality, even beyond.

Grace Cavalieri
Grace Cavalieri is the author of 14 books of poetry and 20 staged plays. She's produced "The Poet and the Poem" on public radio, entering its 28th year, now from the Library of Congress. Grace holds the Allen Ginsberg Award for Poetry, the Pen Fiction Award for story, and the CPB Silver Medal for Broadcasting.



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