IF YOU SHOULD FIND YOURSELF VOICELESS
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
AT THE CORE
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.