Maria Terrone


In your late October email,

you sent compliments and signed off

with virtual hugs despite

your looming threat:

“I will be discontinuing treatment…

what the next stage will be,

we are not quite sure.”

Three days later, immersed

in the aching beauty of autumn woods,

I’m distracted by words that appear

on my black slab of phone:

RIP Louise DeSalvo.

You lived your life knowing

that words can reveal a heart,

heal a heart. Rip  a heart.

The wind stirs and strips more leaves,

bringing them down, brown and brittle,

to mingle with this cold earth.

You were about to meet death, Louise,

and still you gave.

I’ll never erase these last, kind words

that you sent me,

just as I’ve saved your hand-written

note cards from decades past.

I wasn’t even your student,

just another hopeful writer—

and still you gave.

Maria Terrone is the author of the poetry collections Eye to Eye (Bordighera Press); A Secret Room in Fall (McGovern Prize, Ashland Poetry Press) and The Bodies We Were Loaned and a chapbook, American Gothic, Take 2. Her work, which has been nominated four times for a Pushcart Prize, has appeared in magazines including Poetry, Ploughshares and The Hudson Review and in more than 25 anthologies. She is the poetry editor of Italian Americana.