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La Piccioletta Barca - Issue 15
327 Brightnesses

327 Brightnesses

A summer child, I was born
silent. Contemplative of the firefly, which I knew
I would [as we all],­­ sooner or later, become. Aware of the awful
of jars, the fright of cupped hands and cheesecloths, taut.
The inexorable luminarias of us. Flightless––
A negligible loss, the mother will say when the son questions
the small cruelty of his capture. All there will be left
to do is die, diminished, by a window and this too will be exquisite,
won’t it? It is in the wanting
that we will come to see three-hundred-and-twenty-seven
brightnesses. Eight in the lemon tree

The Yarn of Your Young Life, 1923-1956

The Yarn of Your Young Life, 1923-1956

[A Letter for You in Your Second Childhood]

My sweet grandmother, édes nagymamám––a memory for you is a splintered reliving. Now at 96, you exist as shards of yourself. I wonder if inside your mind, is a prism. You think sharply of a small city, at the center––a church, and opera house. You fixate on these edifices. Your father, József, killed himself shortly after Hungary was dismembered, and this small city––where at the center was a church, opera house, and memory of the early bud of a bond buried in the clay of man and woman––was now part of Slovakia. He was survived by Anna Bodnár and their 3 small children: Tibor, Valéria, and you. When you dream of your father, who is lost to you, there is always a violin. Rare nights, you exist as the violin itself, as the f-shaped hollows, the long neck and the chinrest. At the same time, you reside safely within the dark resonant chamber, and then with abandon, you go beyond the body, and become the very song. The undulation of the strings in the umbra of your dream, in which you ache––

Their barbershop remained. Your mother sustained it, furnished it. These furnishings––your most resplendent remembrances. Gyönyörű székek, you wept, beautiful chairs. Such sumptuous upholstery––spines like fiddles, lyres, honeysuckle petals and leaves. You ate wild peaches and purple plums, walked on innocent legs to your neighbor’s farm for fresh milk, eggs. Then, your adolescence arrived, and with it, the war. Beautiful chairs belonged now to the Russians, as did bread and meat, and women’s bodies, maybe yours, I do not know, or want to––

Your mother once hid leftover pork, nearly raw, under the floorboards, where it grew mold in virulent blooms. You almost died, but bound to your bed for many months, prescribed red grapes and red wine, you survived the bacteria. As you aged, you made clothes as beautiful as your mother’s chairs, with such traumatized hands. Your brother worked for the railroad, your sister kept cats and for a living, cut hair. They are gone now and you feel guilty for having outlived them. Despite all of this, you still refract some light––recall the brightnesses amidst such dark things: sweet palacsinta and apricot trees amidst Molotov cocktails and Stalinist ideology. Those soft yellow chicks you held on the farm, little darlings, amidst atmosphere thick with death––

Perhaps most distinctly you recall the silence as you sat in daylight beside your country’s largest freshwater lake. A carp’s tail flicked the surface of the water, and there was a glistening. I wonder if in that moment you felt a certain inescapability define you, your life. A glistening of cautionary droplets, jewels, brilliant in the sun, which would rise the day after to reveal billows of smoke in the capital’s square. Billows shaped like men and women, rising up, meeting, departing from the heart of Hungary, like exodus––

Today I Am a Weathervane of Wanting & Nocturne in D Minor, A Dismantling by the Sea

Today I Am a Weathervane of Wanting & Nocturne in D Minor, A Dismantling by the Sea

Today I Am a Weathervane of Wanting

Today I am a weathervane of wanting, wearied by
the muchness of life; I am muted if not already loosened from the
spool of me. All of my lofty parts––my Thread of Essentia and Radish-Red Root are no longer wound around a certain warm center, but I am
a wound.
Inaccurate distillate of me sits drawing water striders near as
if a vernal pool, the stagnancy a gesture. Rust like moss has gnawed
away at the instrument of me. I am no longer a gust, I am the littlest
wind. I am the blue in a beet, barely there––indiscernible, thin.
O, possibility of places like scattered Edens.
O, mast approaching over horizon, indicating your nearness to home.
O, Very lights, O, Pharos, O, morn, O, foam.
I am coming.

Nocturne in D Minor, A Dismantling by the Sea

Late June––in a meadow where
beetles with bioluminescent bellies lolled in the black
atmosphere, aglow in intervals––the astronomer
taught us that Vega was once and will once again be
our true north star. I, like her, am blue, and I have loved you
like Altair. I have loved you so much that my loom
went abandoned, wrapped naturally over time in webs
born from devotion to another, and the surface grew thick
with dust, while your ox was starved taut and thin,
for everything you had in you to give away, you gave selfishly to me.

I am not myself tonight, during these small hours in September.

Ammophila whistles in sea wind, my hair lifts and then falls, is whisked
into painful knots––I am floating in what can only be articulated as dusty
dream space where all is unbelievable, but namely, the existence of
our almost separation. We cannot escape it, nor accept it.
At the same time I want to hold your hand, I also want to leave you.
Five years now––half of a decennia together, and also our love’s silent vigil,
with candlelight kept alive not by divinity, but windscreens.
I tell you through tears: if this is the end of all things
you and I, let us only hope that there will be grace. That we will be graceful
in unloving one another. But you are rigid as these palm trees lined
like brothers-in-arms who will never survive the winter, unkind, as you.
I have jolted you, I know, in suggesting we halve now, my words have
hardened you. I hesitate for your stone hand. You swat mine away
as if a warm insect, irritating you like a shadow. My iridescent
wings plucked out by each new unkindness you toss, out of hurt. Like kisses
of wasps; insults from the one I love.

Dear D., my beloved,
Saturn must be ashamed of us now.

After we sat for hours watching him, watching us––our interactions,
this bond, which almost every living thing aches for; ants, grey parrots,
prairie voles, even that lonely giant suspended up there in the heavens with those cold
rings of water ice and broken moons, nowhere touching.

Nusquam coherente.

I often wonder about the very moment a star lets itself die.
Even now, on this night, when we could let our love rest
in the sweetest place of peace, here on the shores of the Atlantic,
I cannot allow it. Every moment of near peace is a moment I will
have to interrupt, for nothing in this world is right
if we are not together.

Dear D., I want you to know––no matter the aftermath,
I will walk on many magpies to meet you, once a year.


I am a recent graduate of William Paterson University in New Jersey, where I was an honor student of writing, psychology, and Japanese language. Being a lover of words and languages, I also study Greek––which is my partner’s mother-tongue––and Hungarian––which is my mother’s mother-tongue. My affiliation with these languages is what initially drew me to La Piccioletta Barca. My admiration for the aesthetic of La Piccioletta Barca is what led to my time spent reading the work published in these archives.