Two poems by Maria Apichella

Steering round roads, flagged by associations
I see pieces of bone in the hills, woven
in grass and stony bristle along the paths;
a jaw lies open in a stream.
I have been up there before and I’ll go again.
Down here I lift up my eyes to the relics
in the hills, to a tractor boy grown up,
who winced as he flattened the things around him.
He stood with me in the valley;
faced me in the bracken,
bellowing not for the divine but for me
his canticle, the call of imagined water.
He was born with suspicion in his throat,
I kinetic with spirit.
Together we traced the borders,
trod the foothills,
rolled the foam flecked waves, the gritty beaches,
the salt cold depths of his home.
He wanted to be a dragon-tailed warrior.
He spoke in a language I could only feel.
There are bones in the memory
of that boy who shambled off,
no forwarding address.
I stayed here
hovering steep on the brink,
jittery with my own longing, which he pressed into me
a recurring pain searing the dark tissue,
the marrow,
the cells of all the guts I’ve got.

My foot would have slipped but the Rescuer
was already there, and knew the whole boring story.
He caught me like a scent, a look.

Meanwhile the Organic trash bag hangs in the air. Lemon,
carrot rind, clump of hard coffee.  One   two   three
a word has been found. The kitchen light splats bushy
gold on my boy’s lovely head.
The day sinks into the salad bowl.
Only the bark of wolf-dogs, mutts. The blonde
German girls laugh in the house above.
The tawny cat, all bendy bones and a jewel-like sore
on its oozing spine, crying like a child.
The kettle has finally boiled.

Scrabble continues slow: What do I look like,
a dictionary?
I’m just trying to model the non-competitive spirit.
I am going to write America, Xenophobic. Pisa
spreads below. Mass gongs. Postcards are sent
and home is just over that mountain.
Tomorrow we eat more gelato.
Bloody hell,
Jewish words in the scrabble?
We will have chocolate with strawberry, or banana with mango.
We will eat, go to Mass,
put ourselves in the sea.
There is more sausage in the fridge,
tea in the pot with no lid.
Your nationality sits on your head, several treasure troves   deep,
what am I? Last.  Epic failure.
Welsh people in a Pope forgiven country.
My sister, a non-Catholic teenager,
was force fed the Host by a harried Priest.
God does not mind.
Give the Protestant a chance, my mother said.
Make your mark. Don’t be such a meanie.
I require silence. Liz, Maria, Callie.
I’ll use pepper spray.
Fingertips are more sensitive than the tongue.
Fore finger has no face.
Daddy sleeps upstairs.
The green glass waits to be an inspiration.
The squeak, squeak, squeak
of the gadget floor mop,
most annoying sound in the world,      continues.

It’s late.
You bite your thumb at me? Screw you, sucker.
Let’s finish the game.
That’s how a poem should start.

About the author

Maria Apichella teaches online for the University of Maryland, Europe, and is in the midst of her PhD in English and Creative Writing at…

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Issue 17 · March 2013

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