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14th Anniversary Edition, Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume One Nov-Dec 2023
Burial Grounds, poems by Edward Caruso.
Rubber tyres brake in gravel
The sound of water fills a vase
bursting with dahlias
Yeats’s Cast a cold eye On Life …
birth and death dates
the bookends of autobiography
Out of reverence
when I visit my parents’ graves
other burial places I’ve stopped at come to mind
Neruda’s and Matilde’s at Isla Negra
Paganini’s at La Villetta Cemetery, Parma
Vases with plastic flowers
Eucalypts that don’t shed leaves
but drop branches on tombstones
Plaques that after twenty-five years
are no longer legible
How I got here
How I got to be who I am
Conversations never ending
seldom for the faint-hearted
I whisper to my deceased
The earth, damp, foliage rust-coloured;
yellowing mosses and patches of clover.
The middle years,
a face in October light
on a forgotten Sunday morning.
A figure enters a church,
not to pray, but to admire the silence
and relinquish the futility of commitment.
Reassured, Pia will leave.
If she could wait for love,
choose a favourite saint,
stations of the cross and faith,
her lifelong constant
– to never let go what’s so infinitely hers.
The ideal encounter never lasts.
When on a train Pia takes to the owner
of a discotheque in Rimini,
the Palestinian who’s lived here 15 years
and that one face that sticks in the mind,
fascinated with her words and drawing her to him.
But she almost misses her stop,
having grabbed her things to the call of ‘Mi dispiace’
during a rush to the exit.
Pia takes her new lover to her favourite delicatessen,
names half a dozen cheeses with all manner
of red, black and clear crusts,
alludes to roasted chestnuts and tiramisu.
Pia and her partner will feast in a farmhouse with his family.
An admirer will ask from whom she inherited her eyes.
Walks in the cold, oaks and pines covered in mist.
Five years pass,
Pia’s one true companion is beaten,
even as she stays by his side.
In Lausanne a mask fits over his face,
the critical eye removed and fitted
with a metal overlay before being placed back.
Treatment in a nuclear reactor,
the tumour behind the retina burns away,
yet blindness ensues.
Fear he’ll lose sight in the other eye.
Pia and her mother will pray together in church.
Rain, Pia wishes she could dream of it more often,
cyclists riding past with umbrellas.
Despite the trip to Switzerland,
a second tumour cuts loose in Pia’s husband’s lung.
Then the sudden stroke and numbers of people
who come from nowhere to farewell
the man twice married and whose children
want to know why Pia is moving away.
An apartment overlooks a riverbed of stones.
Pia will walk to town arm in arm
with a neighbour and recall
a film seen on a date forty years earlier,
and that first cigarette smoked when her then boyfriend
asked why she’d smoked it alone.
Future menthols. To hold the fumes down,
caress her companion’s cheek,
allowing his hand to reach her breast.
To inhale once more,
exchange looks and inhale again.
Recalling the priest who spoke
of the martyrs and Saint Sebastian.
Pia’s last visitors:
the stepdaughters who come back briefly,
but she recognises nobody.
The sight of Pia fifty years earlier strolling through
two urchins’ ball games in piazza San Francesco, Bologna.
In those figures the desire
to save the best of herself for those she loved,
handing out 100 lira coins,
giving all she could for the fortune
Pia wished was hers to give.
© Edward Caruso
Edward Caruso has been published in A Voz Limpia, Australian Multilingual Writing Project, ‘La Bottega della Poesia’ (La Repubblica, Italy), Burrow, Communion, Kalliope X, Mediterranean Poetry, Meniscus, n-Scribe, Right Now, StylusLit, TEXT, Unusual Work and Well-Known Corners: Poetry on the Move. His second collection of poems, Blue Milonga, was published by Hybrid Publishers in 2019. In August 2019, he featured on 3CR’s Spoken Word program.