[Locked away we’re like a Russian novel:]

Gabrielle Calvocoressi

Locked away we’re like a Russian novel:

                                               the hermit and the cowboy,

me stepping from the train.

                                               A world of snow. Whose Great Coat a den

of baby foxes skinned and sewn together.

                                               We’re a field of stars,

all the peasants’ sheep shorn in haste

                                               made into a carpet placed beneath my feet,

the stationmaster’s son sent through the night to find us

                                               this small room.

[symbol] ’s the foxes and the wolves.

                                               [symbol] ’s the doves with their curved necks

waiting out the rain.  [symbol] ’s the grass

                                               starting to shake. [symbol] ’s the medals

on whose own bureau, the silver

                                               glinting on whose horse’s bridle.

I said, Samovar sounds like a knight.

                                               It’s just a fancy tea pot. [symbol] ’s my samovar,

the steam that makes my cheeks glow

                                               so all the women talk. [symbol] ’s the snow

covering the wolf’s tracks,

                                               the party of sleds sent out and not returning

[symbol] gives me whose alphabet of notes

                                               One by one each day. [symbol] ’s a thousand pages

read across the endless plains til [symbol] rides hard

                                               beneath my window and helps me down

as the first flakes fall and I say,

                                               You brought the first snow for me.

More by Gabrielle Calvocoressi

A Word From the Fat Lady

It isn't how we look up close
so much as in dreams.

Our giant is not so tall,
our lizard boy merely flaunts

crusty skin- not his fault 
they keep him in a crate

and bathe him maybe once a week.
When folks scream or clutch their hair

and poke at us and glare and speak
of how we slithered up from Hell,

it is themselves they see:
the preacher with the farmer's girls

(his bulging eyes, their chicken legs)
or the mother lurching towards the sink,

a baby quivering in her gnarled 
hands. Horror is the company

you keep when shades are drawn.
Evil does not reside in cages.

Graves We Filled Before the Fire

Some lose children in lonelier ways:
tetanus, hard falls, stubborn fevers

that soak the bedclothes five nights running.
Our two boys went out to skate, broke

through the ice like battleships, came back
to us in canvas bags: curled

fossils held fast in ancient stone,
four hands reaching. Then two

sad beds wide enough for planting
wheat or summer-squash but filled

with boys, a barren crop. Our lives
stripped clean as oxen bones.

Rocket Fantastic [excerpt]

It's ridiculous what fame
can buy you. Not the beast
but the tiny, frightened
man who brings him
in a cage from Alhambra,
who stands in the doorway
as the three girls finish,
get off the bed and walk down 
to the pool, giggling as they pass.
The Bandleader borrowed
a tiger because we saw it 
in a reel the studio sent over,
some movie about a prince
that played against the wall
of the upstairs bedroom. 
Sometimes a girl would jump 
into the pool and the waves  
shimmered up. In the movie
the prince brings the tiger
to the castle and it rules
alongside him, "That's not 
believable," the Bandleader  
said and then, "Don't stop." 
And then, "Ah. Right there."
The prince would place his hand 
on the tiger's head and grab 
his hair in his fist and move 
it around. I liked to watch 
him start to want things, a wetness
forming in his mind. There were 
three girls squealing in the pool
and the waves  came up to us 
as ripples of light that I passed 
my fingers through, "You're blue 
with gold stripes," the Bandleader 
said, looking up at me 
but imagining the tiger beside him 
already, before he even  
reached for the phone.