Thursday, July 31, 2008

August 2008

This month features Isaiah Vianese


We're losing my Great-Grandmother,
her memories
leaking through a crack
no one can mend.

She's sleeping more often,
drifting away from us,
her family, every body
that came from her body.

She's walking away
in dreams of her mother
making sauce at the stove,
dipping the wooden spoon
into the paste and garlic
to stir in spices,
and then tapping the instrument
dry on the rim.

She's slipping away
quickly, quietly, forgetting
streets with their stop signs,
forgetting how to
turn back around.


Great Grandma sits by the window
to watch the birds feed.
When a starling
or another homely bird
shoves the others
out of the way,
she scolds it
in its own language.

These days
there is so little of her
I understand.

As I set the table for dinner,
Grandma allows herself to drift
again into memories of her homeland,
giving so much to that country
not even the smell of lasagna
calls her back.

She mutters to herself
while she sleeps
as if she has so much
left to say.
I try to wake her,
but she keeps whispering,
giving me her prophecy
in hopes I can decipher
her private tongue.


The trees lining the salt mine
have grown into death thirsty
as pillar after pillar
has been carried to the surface.
Their bark burned away,
all that remains are black shells
of leaves once grown.

I make my way
through the dead.
Here a farmer once lived,
herding his cattle across the road.
There my Great-Grandmother worked
packing peas and corn into cans,
wearing a white apron and sweat.

This is what our world has become:
a road lined with bodies,
drivers making their way
on gas they can't afford,
a memory of a life once lived.

Isaiah Vianese's poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Cherry Blossom Review, The Fourth River and Clockwise Cat. He lives and writes in Missouri.

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