I Don't Say Goodbye, I Only Say Ciao—

What bloody lense holds firm between this mystery & us? Two shiny crows 
tapping intelligently on the glass of a dream.

              Please! Do not make me do the human things—

I must tend to my many plankton realities, 
                          must be off with my better self:
                                                                            One million faces lined 
                          along a mirrored tunnel & in each that same tricky knot begging.

You couldn’t know how long I suffered over it, my long waiting at the end of the maze.

I can only guess what you think I’m after,             stretching in the mirror 
while you rattle on about sabotage,

                                                       an old tension springing in the body.


Copyright © 2021 by Gabrielle Octavia Rucker. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 8, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“Written in the aftermath of a vicious verbal assault, I spent many months with this poem attempting to make sense of what, if anything, I did wrong to prompt such callous abuse by someone who claimed to love me. Throughout my healing, I found myself soothed by the memory of opening the side medicine cabinet in the bathroom to create a tunnel of mirrors where I liked to watch the countless reflections of my childhood self. It was in this mirror-time that I was able to understand the various paths of abuse I’d unknowingly been groomed for throughout my youth. It was also through this mirror-time I was able to escape. The opening line of the poem is an homage to Federico García Lorca and his work, ‘The Ruby Disc’. Special thanks to Joselia Rebekah Hughes and Ryan Clarke for their friendship and gentle holding in the wake of my numerous unravelings while editing this work. Many thanks to Anaïs Duplan for selecting this poem.”
Gabrielle Octavia Rucker