BEFORE WINTER COMES
by Gabriella M. Belfiglio
We ride the train up the alphabet
to the edge of Brooklyn. She tells me
life and death stories. The pastel shirt
she’s wearing is soft between my fingers.
I picture her dropping a daisy
on her father’s grave, shift my body
across the orange seats into her.
Jellyfish are strewn along the shoreline,
hiding amongst the discarded round
bottoms of glass bottles. If you look
closely, you can see a ring of electric blue,
thinner than a spider web, encircling
their gelatinous bodies. I am shocked
with childhood fears, as my bare feet tiptoe
through the squishy landmines. Behind us,
the Cyclone towers above signs hawking
cold beer and hotdogs, above the crooked
brown of the boardwalk, above her and me
tangled into each other, our bodies
pressing down the faded leopard-skin-
patterned sheet, into the supple sand.
A tribe of Hasidic children in matching shirts
and skirts, invades our otherwise naked
beach. The girls scatter away from their mother
and the baby she is holding to search
for shells and other treasures. Three boys
play catch, each throw bringing them closer
to our embrace, pretend not to look.
In the morning, I am salty
from her kisses. The ocean and sand
switched places overnight
land became liquid
dripping into my shower drain
and the sea
a scratchy solid on my skin.
(Chiron Review, Issue 99, Spring 2015)
by Phyllis Capello
The silver moon talking
That was my curse
The summer night
skipping over dark sand,
she spoke above the drone of waves:
Embrace him, she commanded;
but the seabirds started squawking,
I couldn’t hear the rest.
Selfish crone, how could you
doom my innocence?
exile a heart from radiance,
to wretched winter’s cold abyss?
(Packs Small Plays Big, Bordighera Press, 2018)
by Paola Corso
in memory of Xu Chaoqing and Liu Guojiang
Jiangjin, Chongqing, China
what you would do for love.
For over 50 years
a man chiseled 6000 steps
out of rock
from the village Gaotan
to the mountaintop
where he and a shunned woman
ten years older
fled to live in seclusion.
Grass and roots for food,
walnuts and dates,
fish caught, leaves
ground into flour.
A kerosene lamp for light,
two wooden stools,
and their embrace
to warm the chill of night.
It was rare for her to climb
down and face village gossip.
Some say the times she did
were for her husband,
so the soles of her feet
every slab he carved
with loving hands.
(Vertical Bridges: Poems and Photographs in City Steps, Six Gallery Press, 2020)