No one else had ever told her that.
Only the shining wasp with a voice clean
as a spinning needle--
how water would hold her closer
than any body. Never betray her.
It would polish her bones like fever.
This is why she pushed her way through
cattails which sprang
like a crown of thorns along the riverbed,
her red slippers going burgundy
in the bloodwarm, tidal mud.
The water’s green meniscus wavered
in the swell of her advance. Abandoned,
her bouquet spread across the surface
like frail arms opening toward the perfect
cerulean sky. Her pale braids unspooled
like scrims of light. The spoiled lace
of her gown, yellowed with pollen
and sun, tangled in a willow branch torn
free in the past night’s storm, and
for a single breathless moment held
her in the shadow of that ancient tree
while, just above her watery eyes,
the black wasp hung, unfurling paper
from its mouth like a delicate scroll
upon which nothing was written.
Or else it was something unbearable as grief.
This poem previously appeared in The Journal and Out of Eden.
Frank Paino was born in Cleveland, Ohio and earned an MFA from Vermont College. His poems have appeared in a variety of literary publications, including: Crab Orchard Review, Catamaran, North American Review, World Literature Today, The Briar Cliff Review, Lake Effect and the anthology, The Face of Poetry. His third book, Obscura, is forthcoming from Orison Books in 2020. Frank’s first two volumes of poetry were published by Cleveland State University Press: The Rapture of the Matter (1991) and Out of Eden (1997). His awards include a Pushcart Prize, The Cleveland Arts Prize in Literature, and a 2016 Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council.
The Ekphrastic Review
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