Bio Note: I’m a former high school English and writing teacher and a now full-time poet-writer. A native of the Hudson Valley in upstate New York, I love the seasons except winter, when I migrate to Florida with the birds. My publishing credits can be found on my website.
in a rock well, whirlpooling out a pinhole at the granite base—emptying the way New York City empties the Ashokan with flushing, showers, with waste and wanting, I keep the old towns—foundations of homes, stores, churches—visible in summer’s drought. Places we ate, chatted, made love, prayed, before the 1905 project—before bulldozers and floods for a reservoir in the womb-like basin of the Catskills—for a city I’d never see. I am that voluptuous basin filled with fish, feeding eagles, bear, climbing stone walls, spilling over, traversing aqueducts, tunnels, rocking driftwood, marooned boats, flowing from the cellar of the house where I stored jams, cured meats, the rooms where I lived with a husband, four babies —before tweed suits with money bargained, bought, moved Grandma and the rest of the cemetery to higher ground. A marker at water’s edge says we lived here … the towns of Brown’s Station, Olive City, Broadhead’s Bridge, Ashton. I am water. The keeper.
This morning’s walk the length of Vincent Lane across the main road into the cemetery, where I go to weed the flowers at my mother’s gravesite, a funeral procession. Thirty or more cars lined along the entranceway—sun hats, umbrellas suits and flowers, bodies merging to attend the end. I do not have the verve to disturb this last prayer and penance. Turn back. I think about how he said, “Don’t be disappointed in me,” meaning because I can’t love you or anyone again, because I have been buried in a sarcophagus of loss and prefer to live with ghosts, because I don’t want to fail again, because your disappointment will remind me how disappointed I am in myself. In my silent stride home, I say We all land in this final hiding place, guarding inert bones, a bloodless heart with an eternal yearning to make it beat again.
©2022 Catherine Arra
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