A Poem by Gabrielle Calvocoressi

by Mark Bibbins, Editor

“I was popular in certain circles”

Among the river rats and the leaves.
For example. I was huge among the lichen,
and the waterfall couldn’t get enough
of me. And the gravestones?
I was hugely popular with the gravestones.
Also with the meat liquefying
beneath. I’d say to the carrion birds,
I’d say, “Are you an eagle? I can’t see
so well.” That made them laugh until we
were screaming. Eagle. Imagine.

The vultures loved me so much they’d feed
me the first morsel. From their delicate
talons, which is what I called them:
such delicate talons. They loved me so deeply
they’d visit in pairs. One to feed me.
One to cover my eyes with its velvety wings.
Which were heavy as theater curtains. Which I was
sure to remark on. “Why can’t I see what I’m eating?”
I’d say. And the wings would pull me into
the great bird’s chest. And I’d feel the nail
inside my mouth.

What pals I was with all the scavengers!
And the dead things too. What pals.
As for the living, the fox would not be outdone.
We’d sit on the cliff’s edge and watch the river
like a movie and I’d say, “I think last night…”
and the fox would put his paw on top of mine
and say, “Forget it. It’s done.” I mean,
we had fun. You haven’t lived until a fox
has whispered something the ferns told him
in your one good ear. I mean truly.
You have not lived.

Gabrielle Calvocoressi is the author of The Last Time I Saw Amelia Earhart and Apocalyptic Swing, and is Senior Poetry Editor at Los Angeles Review of Books. Her third book of poems, Rocket Fantastic, is forthcoming. She’s at work on a memoir called The Year I Didn’t Kill Myself.

You will find more poems here. You may contact the editor at poems@theawl.com.