LindaAnn LoSchiavo


Lined up like make-believe guests, potted ferns
Adorned the entry, their cool shadows dim
Switching the parlor—life’s last living room—
Where time hesitates and dark furnishings
Project inarguable dignity.

Bookended by brass casket handles, lids
Too heavy to be raised again must sense
My presence, those defiant eyes I closed,
Who parsed my childish alibis, whose last
Wink nicked the priest, who forced death to hold still
Till her eyes sent light leaping into mine.

Make-up achieved the requisite life-like
Illusion, simulating deepest sleep.

Anxieties from cancer, agony,
Diminishment, decay, helplessness:
These were dissolved by death’s majestic wand.

No longer glued in sickbed amber, she
Exhales departure’s cloudburst, stretches free,
Ignores those funeral displays. I feel,
Inside pink satin, energy’s astir.

Longing embedded in the earth has been
Roused, charmed from sleep to welcome her. Except
Tomorrow’s pre-dug grave will not confine
Zest’s essence—just her perishable corpse.

Bright windows fogged. Or was that tears? She’s flown.


That year morphine became a minuet,
Sweet pianissimo. Its soft pedals stilled
Anguish, reproached relentless timekeeping—
Tick, tick—mortality’s metronome.

Before my mother died at home, she learned
That cancer’s like a Depression Era
Endurance contest: the dance marathon,
Odds stacked against her, swaying in slow mode.

Despite defiant hair, a plump physique
Deceiving guests, illness hokey-pokeyed
Her organs, shook breasts off, rhumbaed her cells,
Vitality an unremembered song,
Mere noise until sweet exhalations ceased.

Her corpse was wheeled away. The tempo changed.

Dynamic force reclaimed the rooms, infirm
No longer. Energy expressed intent
As if Mom were at a debutante’s ball,
Star of the floor show, sequined, applauded.

The mind’s embrasures, freed from pain’s embrace,
Seek entertainment, longing to erase
What’s real. Belonging to another realm—
Where everyone’s transparent—Mom’s got plans
She’s telepathed. But first she wants to dance.

A coldness sidles up to seize my hand.


It’s noon, a time without the shadows here,
Earth fitting trees to her embrace secure
That she has left no trace, no certainty
Of patterns, leaving our lives in pieces
Near 12 o’clock, day’s delicate balance
Suspended, shadowless, conditional.

Reality’s removed without patterns
Like shadowplay. A lesson’s here perhaps,
I thought when I was four and lacemaking
Took place, full centered in my childhood’s loom.

Grandmother, lacemaker, her face worn thin
From secrets, some perpetual, straight-pinned.
Our lady of the leaping fingers, she.
Sly Rumpelstilskin in the fairytale
Never knew slackness of time jerked so tight.

A lesson’s here perhaps, I thought at four,
Unschooled, unlike my nonna: convent-bred,
Whose hands don’t falter though her world gave way
Beneath her tiny feet. She hates it here.
New Yorkers mock outsiders with accents,
And foreign ways. Life snipped all promises
Away along with pretty certainties.

I stand before her, silent, at a loss.
She is my book who sadly lost its place,
Recording everything in foreign words
I’ve yet to learn. Her Naples dialect
Is Virgil’s tongue (that her father prized)
Debased —  uneasy compromise she made.
“Fit in!” advised her husband.  Neither did,
Unnoticed by America’s embrace.

I study her. Those movements are trimmed tight
Creating bobbin-lace, diminished light
About to stop her for today, unrest

Instructing nonna‘s face, defacing joy
As she works threads by feel, through memory.

Grandmother, lacemaker: age silvered her
Beyond full-figured hopes except for mine.

I want to live on fingertips enclosed
In palms that hoard European know-how.

She shakes from pale silk its unwillingness
To be superior: pure handmade lace.
Imagine what perfection she could coax
From hiding out of me? I know we’ll be
Cut off—slim shreds of golden day returned
To earth as shadows alter light she needs.

This slender spray of lace she’ll leave behind,
Ethereal and printed from no plans
But beauty’s memories across pearled seas,
White-capped like virgin brides, their futures laced
With every pretty certainty, those lives
Not ripped asunder. Pinned in place, their lace
(Re-worked for christening gowns), announces news:
Renewal, newborn things, dull safety’s brace.

What lesson’s here of what I want to be?

Chi son’? Chi son’? My insufficient face
Reveals no trace. Ancestral graces may
Escape my generation. The sun leans
To catch late afternoon. Our living room
Is less familiar when I fold pure lace,
Protecting it from dirt, aware my hands
Discourage courage. No safe certainty
Came looking for me at age four except
Low beams of dusk advancing as if dragged
Across a scorned sphere. Twilight blinks. Tired night.
No heart can be heard in winds blowing by.

Like predator or prey, birds nestle in
Among pitch-dripping, tightly laced branches.

Sunset is an illusion, I am told.
Though the sun seems to sink, it’s earth that turns,
Impassively, away towards east, a habit.


LindaAnn LoSchiavo a Native New Yorker and an Elgin Award winner and nominee for the   Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, Firecracker, Ippy, Balcones Poetry Prize, Rhysling Award, and Dwarf Stars, has been a “Featured Poet” in Italian Americana, selected by Dana Gioia. Her forthcoming titles are “Apprenticed to the Night” (Beacon, 2023) and “Felones de Se: Poems about Suicide” (Ukiyoto, 2023).
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