Her poetry collection, Femme au chapeau, will appear in 2005 from
David Robert Books. It follows Earth Lessons (Bellowing Ark Press)
and two poetry CDs: A God You Can Dance and Singing in the
Pandaleshwar Caves
. Her poetry, essays and reviews have appeared
or are forthcoming in: Atlanta Review, Bellingham Review, Boulevard,
North American Review, The Pedestal, Swink and the forthcoming
anthology Italy: A Love Story. Her poetry was included in Ravishing
DisUnities: Real Ghazals in English
(Wesleyan University Press, 2000).

Kids of the Rocket Engineer

We just moved to California, zoomed
over the sky and hung up our sleds.
At ocean's haunches we put on our forever shorts
and go-aheads, leaving behind a red brick firehouse's
one-room school and Aunt Fritzi's gefilte sandwiches
for the hopalong West. Dad's a man with a badge
and a slide rule. He drills us on square roots.
We're going past the exosphere, he says,
but today we'll skate with you Italians and Greeks
down Seventh Street's humps, bump
to the dump and rattle on pocked cement
under fronds of pepper trees.
My old man fished here before you
invented space, you say, as we pedal fast

past your aunts in black on red porches
shouting words with upturned toes. We all sling
kelp under the lifeguard's chair, Danilovich
and Pappadakis browning the same.
Whether your father looks out to sea or up
to sky, Nick's dad is right when he says a family
has everything here: spread
table, grandfather snoring down the hall.
We are all the day's catch.
Here, we all belong to the ocean.

Ballet Teacher's Catechism

You'll practice every day until you die.
When years of sweat have dried, call it Art.
Eight en croix, thirty-two on each side.
You kids only like the easy part.

When years of sweat have dried, call it Art,
glittering threads whose weft you never see.
You kids only like the easy part.
You don't understand the work of simplicity.

Glittering threads, the weft you never see-
beauty is woven on a loom of pain.
You don't understand the work. Behind simplicity
is a dancer with a one-pointed brain.

Beauty is woven on a loom of pain.
Only repetition can make a movement pleasing.
The dancer with a one-pointed brain
trains sinew and bone past habit and reason.

Only repetition can make a movement pleasing.
Eight en croix, thirty-two on each side.
To train sinew and bone past habit and reason
you'll practice every day until you die.

Sapphics with Little Rags and Cabbage

Fishwives from Zagreb dig in their stony yards.
Complaint-salted stories curl next to their molars
as they bury jars of pennies and nickels,
hedging the day's catch.

Saturday evenings, grandmothers for hire
come to our house. Mrs. Pinsky's arms jiggle
and little crosses dangle from ears. She winks,
smelling of garlic.

She salts her pot of Little Rags and Cabbage,
a stone stew she says is made with rutabagas,
rhubarb and thistles from women who, gardening,
glower at mowers.

I curse the Fisher God! they say as they spit.
Him who gaffed me onto this easy coastline.
They keep the sour taste of Vis in their cheeks,
sprouting like mushrooms.

They suffer in suits for ancient traditions.
Mrs. Vukasivich sends to the village
a picture of her Frank in his coffin, writes,
Breathing is over.

Crossing Myself in Temple

Torah scrolls on their mahogany spindles
mesmerize me, as does the Dove and Latin
chanting, neat as our gardener's pruning, but
parents say, Choose one.

Crossing myself in front of the rabbi makes
Dad spit-mad. Sheila taught me, but now
calls me a Christ-killer. My best friend crosses.
Kissing, she blames me.

In our temple, the purses snap shut, hoarding
ancient dark, but a pillar of fire in Point
Fermin's searchlight, roaming the foggy coast
speaks to me nightly.

Men at the rail toss tuna over their heads.
Space engineers and Japanese farmers hoe
furrows in sky or kale but cannot agree
on a Deity.

In America, you can make your own faith.
I'm mud-mixing mine from their discards and nubs,
kneeling over artifacts: seed, stone, ice plant,
purse seiners, loquats-

Those fruits that open faster than holy books.
Their mahogany pits are shaped like beating
hearts, living sculptures, light-spilling chalices,
oceans in rhythm.

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