19 January 2009 | Vol. 8, No. 4
What I Hold
A glint—an intimation of what gleams.
Just the incidentals; nothing grand
in pomegranates, Coney Island, reams of
of new newspapers hitting dawn—dark stands.
The birds I hear don't sound like opera, not
like flutes or piccolos at play. They sound
like birds. Sometimes the birds are all I've got.
There's nothing grand but wakefulness, the ground
I jump from; nothing but the shining air
which might be a light left on for me. A glow
that may be small, but bright and worthy of care.
I pity the fragile, but I still forgo
the sturdy cup and choose the demitasse.
Whatever's in my grip, it's made of glass.
Whatever's in my grip, it's made of glass—
blown promises, assurance that forged skin
will harden, change to something that might pass
for beautiful. But though I know that in—
side every crafted sphere there is just air,
I cannot love the space between the words,
can find no pleasure in the silence there.
And if the point is trusting what's unheard—
how every stop, in time, will yield a sound—
the shape I seek is not one I create.
Thorns twist around themselves to form a crown;
they frame an emptiness we'll consecrate.
Without the skips, the beat would not exist.
My hand grasps nothing and still forms a fist.
My hand grasps nothing and still forms a fist
for me to rest my heart against. There's doubt
in everything but what I own: the trysts
I thought were trusts are minor—they amount
to nothing but a blink over the lifetime of the eye.
When subject fails to add up, there's the sum
of my own fingers, vanities, the way
the body shows me just what's mine: the run
of timid freckles sprinting down an arm,
a clavicle to climb, the bones that hold
my weight despite themselves, despite the harm
I've caused. And every story I've been told
is hidden in my spine, a refugee.
Worry my backbone like a rosary.
Worry. My backbone, like a rosary,
cannot withstand the press of all this faith.
I've wrapped myself around the things I see
so tightly that my stories feel like breath—
beholden to them, I inhale their rich
minutiae desperately, but when I let
them out they have been changed. This is a switch
that stripes my best attempts. I need to get
perspective now, and so, unusual
as it may seem, I'll stop to look outside
these lines; to ask if it is sin to pull
myself away from this, or prayer to ride
the story out. But who will answer me?
I'm not a girl who has epiphanies.
I'm not a girl who has epiphanies,
but once one happened, waiting for a light
to change. An ancient woman raised a weak
gnarled fist to tap my window just as night
pressed on. I lowered it. She spoke—a voice
as thick and cumbersome as wool. My feet,
she said, I can't get home. I had a choice,
but I said no. And she went down the street,
the queue of cars…they all said no, and no
and no. I knew this damage was my own;
I had been taught such fears. I knew. And so?
Perhaps I changed my mind and drove her home.
And maybe to this day that choice still seems
like a hint, a minute's inkling of what gleams.
About the author:
Jessica Piazza is Founding Editor of Bat City Review and Co-Founder of the Speakeasy Poetry Series in New York City. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, she is currently pursuing a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Southern California. Among other places, her poems have appeared in AGNI, Indiana Review, No Tell Motel, and Pebble Lake Review.