Grace Cavalieri

I’ve come down from time to let you know

That summer was a great experiment
Before the approaching dryness of autumn

The children have taken off their boots
Their glasses are empty
We heard the distant sounds of their leaving
What we feared most, the rain
The blue sky taken by it
The idle hill where
Nothing is living on its earth

Once all their hands were sticky with blueberries
This taken from us and then
As if made of air, he, my husband
Too – changed from words to light

Once a man and a woman together
Remember me for that

Our lives happened there
In no special place
No special house
But the street turned blue
At midnight everywhere we went
And we owned what little
There was like a wing moving
But still ours

Just as if intended
Everything changed
The land grew red as clay
And the strong clear focus
Of the sun left its yellow singing

Do you understand that there was much to thank
Everything was common and true
Even the dish and the stairs
As if nothing existed before

Beauty wanted us and
Sometimes we failed
But there was at least
The window
The clouds – we’d say
Look at that sunflower
How full, how tall

My right hand across the table
Holding his left
Every square on the cloth
A flower

I’m not saying it was always seeing
Green leaves, large like on Maple trees
Yet there were moments that opened
One time a picnic on the sand.




For years now I look out
the same shining window
from Mrs. Gherardi’s
sewing circle
when I was four.

The large clear view
a water of shadows
shows three yellow ducks
at peace
without a worry of their own,
not too hot, not too cold,
perfect lives
soft creatures
complete on a float made
for their pleasure,

How I stayed
while the women in the other room
laughed and talked,
how the center of a rose
opened in me
I do not close,
I kneel close to the glass,

Over and over I see them
shifting water under their feet
without fear
I still see them
although water no longer there,
the pavement cracked and broken,
I saw the ducks on the day my mother was happy.

The White Jacket

I took it to be cleaned anyway. The one I wore to Key West in February.
Just the right length over shorts, capris, or skirts.
I sit alone now in a white wicker chair.
Outside with white wine.
Under the Dogwood tree.
When I was small I thought only rich people had such trees.
Farther, the green cathedral that disappears my birds.
Maybe I can think about the white cribs instead.
With their soft talcum smells.
Or the gown I wore with 100 pearl buttons down the back.
Crystal Pensacola where wiggly babies were held in low tide.
While higher on dunes Ken cooked eggs on a Coleman stove.
But that is the clock of snow that stopped.
Now. Here. This is better they say.  This white paper.
Ready to tell you this.


What’s there to say about the rose,
……and the dew inside the rose—
………….Who can see the simplicity

of hidden light, the unmarked flower –
      light, dew, rose do not know
………….the names for their slight lives.

That’s why we watch in silence
……without a need for speech—
………….the sun doesn’t know why it’s called sun

No matter what is said
……we learn by stillness—
………….all that’s beautiful will grow.

 © Grace Cavalieri

Grace Cavalieri’s new book is WITH (Somondoco Press 2016.)  She’s the author of several books and produced plays.  The most recent play, “Anna Nicole: Blonde Glory.”  (Theatre for the New City, NYC 2012.) She celebrates 39 years on public radio with “The Poet and The Poem” now recorded at The Library of Congress. Grace’s career includes a co-founder of WPFW-FM; after that, Assoc. Director for Children’s Programming, PBS; and then a Senior Media Program Officer, NEH.  She’s the founder of two poetry presses in DC, still thriving, and is presently the poetry columnist for The Washington Independent Review of Books. Grace Cavalieri was awarded the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award from WASH INDEP REVIEW. She received the George Garrett Award from AWP for Service to literature, the Allen Ginsberg, Paterson Award, Bordighera, and Columbia Poetry Awards, A Pen Fiction Award, plus CPB’s Silver Medal.

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