Michelle Reale ~ Two Pieces


There may be a grand­moth­er some­where who would be will­ing to care­ful­ly col­lect a drop or two of your tears and mix them with a sprig of rue and a lock of your hair. At this point you can for­get all of the advan­tages that you pos­sess.  You could be the right per­son at the wrong time.  We’ve all been there and we’ve cul­ti­vat­ed the sor­row­ful look to prove it.  If your small town is full of demons, nar­row your field of vision and offer to pol­ish their jack­boots. The old non­na with the wild hair on her chin like a light­ning rod sits demure and vir­gin-like by a lit stove keeps her secrets hid­den beneath her sober apron. There is a cure for every­thing.  Say it. If you can’t inter­est your loved ones in col­lec­tive mem­o­ry, then who can you rea­son­ably trust?  Somewhere along the way the treach­ery of the alpha­bet came to haunt, but the throat betrayed itself. The super­sti­tion of angels can leave marks on the body. Their jeal­ousy is unac­knowl­edged but present nonethe­less. Somewhere there is a bird whose eyes are pooled with blood that sings all the songs you know by heart.  Just for you



Some tra­di­tions are like hand­made heir­looms. We touch them with rev­er­ence, assum­ing their promi­nence in past lives. We note their rar­i­fied, the­o­ret­i­cal breath, the last rem­nant of util­i­ty.  We are all heart — pul­sat­ing pulp and veins like frag­ile ves­sels, car­ry­ing ances­tral bur­dens.  What is bred in the blood is remem­brance.  We want to stand in some per­pet­u­al light, to shine and sub­di­vide.  What’s bred in the bone is longevity—all emp­ty space to rearrange the flour­ish­es we keep for spe­cial occa­sions.  A heart pre­served in the salt of the earth will con­tract. We are for­tu­nate to still under­stand the laws of nature.  A heart that expands from inac­tiv­i­ty is para­dox­i­cal, but we appre­ci­ate fixed lim­its.  It is the lim­it­less nature of what the heart may be capa­ble of that par­a­lyzes us.  This fact alone keeps our ances­tors rolling in the fer­tile ground among the seedlings, tear­ing at their fin­ger­nails with teeth that will grow and grow beyond the grave, feed­ing us what­ev­er is bit­ter beyond our gen­er­a­tion and for gen­er­a­tions to come.


Michelle Reale is the author of sev­er­al prose poet­ry col­lec­tions, includ­ing  In the Year of Hurricane Agnes (Alien Buddha Press, 2022) Season of Subtraction (Bordighera Press, 2019) and Blood Memory (Idea Press, 2021) and Confini: Poems of Refugees in Sicily (Cervena Barva Press, 2022).   She is the Founding and Managing Editor for both OVUNQUE SIAMO: New Italian-American Writing and The Red Fern Review.