Catherine Arra – Three Poems
The End of Night
Without a cosmic canopy, breath solitude, sightless sense
Without stars, white washed in safety glow, galaxies swallowed in electric auras
Without midnight ink, silver dreams, a way to navigate dusk to dawn
know the difference between shadow and night
Without sleep, lost to glare: night light, floodlight, sweeping screaming motion light
clock light, router, modem, red white, blue siren light
we are the monsters under the bed.
How the Heart is Tuned
This afternoon he naps on my patio; his 84 years slouch into sun and sleep. He’s visiting from Florida and will leave tomorrow. I grab the iPhone, greedy to snap and record. Lately, I’ve saved his voice mails too; fearful I’ll forget the subtle intonations, the singular, rhythmic vibrations, his other pulse and the playful utterances—Hel…looo.
This is your Fader. I will memorize these; play them over and over in my quietest mind.
Today, I stop, put down the phone. Through the lens of immediacy, I see him after decades of long-houred work, wrung-out finances, two sons and me—the unbridled daughter—my wildness a part of him he reluctantly tamed. He’s tired. The years of his history, vacancies left by parents, sister, my mother, all the family and friends orbit him.
In his breathing there is acquiescence; a letting go like leaves that spiral to rest in a greater gravity. The perpetual swings between glorious and wrenching opposites—joy and despair, triumph and defeat—have come to stillness between the rasp and snore.
Mother loved her petite apartment
in subsidized housing, the manageability
of finite space, less to traverse from kitchen
to bed, bath, living room, the short path to
her Oldsmobile Cutless, convenience cart
folded in trunk.
Mother loved the solitude after strain:
two marriages, three kids, a business
family, discord, deaths, the chaos of holidays
weekdays: cleaning, shopping, work
cooking, this mess, that one, the daily
wrecking ball kept her busy and never
enough time for silence, that quiet throne
of ease, water waves lapping consciousness
silky cat curled into belly.
Mother loved the simplicity: cooking for one
library books stacked next to reading lamp
Yankee games, living off the disappearing fat
of pensions, this once relentless success in
Cadillacs, Lincolns, in the house with endless
corridors was happy. Breathed.
Catherine Arra is a native of the Hudson Valley in upstate New York. A former English and writing teacher, she now teaches part time, facilitates a local writers’ group and spends winters on the Space Coast of Florida. Recent work appears or is forthcoming in The Timberline Review, Boston Literary Magazine, Naugatuck River Review, Gloom Cupboard and Sugared Water. Her chapbooks are: Slamming & Splitting (Red Ochre Press, 2014) and Loving from the Backbone (Flutter Press, 2015).