Stephanie Laterza

Stephanie Laterza


The Tears of Magdalene

He was someone’s son once

with smooth-nailed cherub’s feet,

toes descending like the pipes on a rondador, mourning

whistles in the subway in Times Square, lying

corded now in white tubes for breath

and webbed with food, blood, meds,

and one more tube to let the waste

out of his white feathered head,

snoring, with a lolling tongue

when the mouth is nothing

but a portal to breathe in and spew out

words ragged with tears to her on the phone.

If he had been hers, and mine, he would have lived as long as Abraham,

like my father, silent and treacherous deaf with rage only age put out,

always waiting for her to come back because that is her punishment

for making him our father

instead of all the worthier

suitors who sought her hand and promised her

cold harbor wharves and blue blood cords and immortal

photos on the mantle from Gibraltar, Mauritius, Everest,

but he belonged to himself,

stitched with red and orange flames

to remember Mama, we don’t know when    

the rain will break its cloud sac

and cut the strings that bound them

for a time

the only certainty is my father,

waiting and watching like God,

silent and treacherous deaf.





The way pigeons fly in an upward vee

in the free pale dawn, I unbutton even my skin,

to become more naked,

sweat-glazed like the head

on a lily’s pistil,

I breathe inside the hollow of your insides;

you breathe back-

I fold myself like a flattened rose

between your palms

because now

words don’t need to come as often

because you have

found me as I have become, without history

it seems you have always been

feeding me water from your mouth,

I have learned the ocean

is a familiar blue

mirror held up to the sky,

holding the whole horizon.



Stephanie Laterza is the author of the legal thriller, The Boulevard Trial. Her short fiction has appeared in The Nottingham Review, Writing Raw, Literary Mama and Akashic Books. Her poetry has been published in Newtown Literary, San Francisco Peace and Hope, Literary Mama and Meniscus Magazine. She holds a B.A. in English from Fordham College at Lincoln Center and a J.D. from New England Law School. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and son.