When you give me back to the world
and the world throws me over, I read Ovid’s
“Cures for Love”: one, love is better
than doing nothing; two, divert the mind
with farming; three, wine promotes sex.
For months I obsess over farm tools, then go to Italy.
But this is supposed to be a sad story,
remember, written in Finnish because
there is no future, there is no forever.
Here is your name crossed out. If you could
now go away from my heart. I’m in Rome
where the gods are lying around at Trevi,
and only the head of the fish on my plate
can look me in the eyes and stay there.
What would Ovid say about this?
The light inside the Pantheon makes me cry
inexplicably. The letter I imagine writing: it is blank.
We are stars as well as dust here. A man
throws fire, the doctor is cutting
my mother’s neck, I’ve lost my way.
Can there really not be any concrete
evidence of love? But this burning sky,
my hands like local relics. Someone
is coming near, someone is vanishing,
I can’t tell which I want
to be real. Now there are bells, now
there is singing, it’s forgiveness
we want. We want to press against
strangers & we want it to be rough.
How much would you pay for joy?
Grandma says nothing is worth
dying for, and in my dreams I can bring her
back to life anytime she decides to leave.
Love is that powerful. Just look at my eyes
saying reaper, spade, sickle. The wine in Rome
has never tasted so lovely. Even this table
you’re leaning on may not be there, someone says.
Even the Forum is all in ruins, and the people
are not sure if history has written them
out from under the rubble.
Stacie Cassarino was awarded the 2005 “Discovery”/The Nation prize, and was a finalist for the Rona Jaffe Writers’ Award this year. Her work has appeared in the The New Republic, Gulf Coast, Crazyhorse, Iowa Review, Georgia Review, and elsewhere. She teaches at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, and Middlebury College in Vermont. (updated 10/2007)