Author's Note: "Ninotchka" is a sonnet for my first cat, who was named - appropriately - after a Garbo film. "Time Traveler" is a look back at the house I grew up in in suburban Maryland, about going back many years later to see if and how it had changed. It had, but not much.
Indifferently, her eyes will trace your hand that stoops to smooth the graceful serpentine ceasing a moment only to define the faithful boundaries of that strange land that bred her silence: Egypt’s lazy sand, the River of Sleep, shapes more or less divine, perpetuations of our world. Her spine rolls gently as you pause before the grand arch of her back, her taut tail like mast that lengthens, it seems, endlessly. At last, she settles, daringly, upon your knee in effortless elegance. How many lives have suffered as painlessly as yours to ponder beauty in its briefest hour?
Originally published in Pivot, Summer 2002.
You grew and you grew until you stopped growing and there they planted a tree to mark your height existence measured in feet and inches, infancy meted out with a yardstick. When you were tall enough, you walked away forever, returning only for a holiday or a wedding but soon not even those. You lost track of the tree standing alone in the yard, an orchard of one. Then everyone else walked away, too. House and garden belong to others now. The cemetery is still there at the end of the road, beyond the curve (the dead don’t walk away so easily) near the communal gardens, cramped and overgrown. Occasionally, you still pass by. Between the pines your father planted, you spy on other lives unfolding as yours once did. Smiling, you wave. They wave back, welcoming you to their home.
Originally published in BigCityLit, Fall 2007.
©2020 Marc Alan Di Martino
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