Thursday, June 27, 2013


Caroline's feet are black on the bottom from going barefoot.
She doesn't attend teas.
Her old handbags moulder on a shelf in the closet,
pretty and delicate and all in a row as if they were empty birds.

Caroline loves cheetahs,
and watches every nature show that she can find.
Once, she painted their characteristic black tear tracks across her face,
and was pleased how they looked with her spiky yellow-orange hair.

Caroline's married love calls,
and with every word she hears, it is like flying
loose-backed and sweet-quick across the savannah.
She pours out her heart as if a dry season were coming
and she might not get another chance.

Later, after sunset,
blue and sinking,
she goes out walking with no shoes
across the tall wild grass behind her little one bedroom house.

Caroline thinks of the cheetahs all evening
as she writes her poems by silence and lamplight.
They are so gorgeously gifted--
she envies them so much it becomes an ache,
and she wonders how they know not to spend themselves
on hoof or heartbeat
they can never catch.

By midnight,
she feels stupidly human and separate from her beloved cats
as she lies on her back near the tiny window fan,
and as still as a stone.

for Fireblossom Friday: "Loss"


Buddah Moskowitz said...

Perfect. The wonder, the longing, the loss. Just perfect.

TexWisGirl said...

'sweet-quick' love that.

also: wonders how they know not to spend themselves
on hoof or heartbeat
they can never catch.

Cloudia said...

"Stupidly human - separated from cats"

A horrible state of affairs.

So, 44 years from Stonewall.
The Daughters of Bilitis would be proud! (Some probably are one hopes)

ALOHA from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral
~ > < } } ( ° > <3
> < } } ( ° >

Mama Zen said...

This is a complete full-circle of incredible. Wow.

HermanTurnip said...

This piece oozes with subtle emotion, and I actually feel a bit sad for Caroline.

Any way I could donate a pumice stone to Caroline for her calloused feet?

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Oh, the longing......."loose-backed and sweet-quick across the savannah". Especially love "she wonders how they know not to spend themselves on hoof or heartbeat they can never catch."


Anonymous said...

Wonderfully vivid portrait. k .

J Cosmo Newbery said...

Really nicely done. I loved the image associated with "She pours out her heart as if a dry season were coming
and she might not get another chance." I can see her, babbling on.

Kerry O'Connor said...

And there it is:

she wonders how they know not to spend themselves
on hoof or heartbeat
they can never catch...

While Caroline could be one of your signature characters, your description is so finely-detailed as to lend her an authenticity which resonates with the reader: both every woman and one woman we recognize her pain in our own remembered heart-ache. At which point, poet, I say, your work here is done.

Carol Steel said...

A well wrought poem, full of the felt ache of longing and the driven fire of love.

The lines Kerry O'Connor quotes are my favourites, too.

Lolamouse said...

Oh, yes, that line "she wonders how they know not to spend themselves
on hoof or heartbeat
they can never catch..." lingers in the brain. Just perfect. Longing and loss ooze from this.

Susan said...

Are you sure they know how not? Even when, caged and lying under a small ceiling fan, still, like your narrator--who was never meant to be captured and never meant to be alone. Sad, sad poem. Loss.

Ella said...

I want to run, to a ceiling fan~

Sad, but painted beautifully!
So many great lines-I can't pick a fav-the whole poem leaps n'lunges out to me~

Thanks FB for this challenge!

hedgewitch said...

It's always a sign of a strong poem when it can carry a metaphor like this flawlessly from first line to last. The mix of human and feline, instinct and reality, heart and head, never falters or seems forced--of course Caroline endows her cats with a preternatural ability she lacks, the one she desires most, perhaps, or merely needs most..they are her totem and salvation, and yet, the core of the loss here for me is that she cannot be what she isn't, and so may never have what she doesn't, and that she knows it. Another of your perfect poems so intense and yet so delicate that it is most potent where it is most simple.

Hannah said...

Oh, Shay...achingly beautiful. I love the painted streaks like the cheetah's...excellent challenge. ♥

Helen said...

... this Caroline will never be 'stupidly human' ~~~ awesome write!

Isadora Gruye said...

I certainly am glad that I stopped here before writing my FBF poem....I really dig how you focus on the longing of a loss. Unique and well crafted. Must admit, because I am me, my favorite line was the hand bags lined up like empty birds....that's one for the fire fly jar.

Be well and viva la

Susie Clevenger said...

Whether just a character or personal this feels so incredibly real...beautiful piece.

grapeling said...

You write with economy and sensitivity, and draw so vividly. A beautiful write ~ M

Truedessa said...

Later, after sunset,
blue and sinking,

I could feel the loss in these words
as if one was sinking over the horizon.

Kay L. Davies said...

This is gorgeous, Shay, like the cheetahs Caroline loves...powerful and beautiful and possessed of a trait she thinks only she lacks.

Patricia A. McGoldrick said...

Shay, in this poem your words paint pictures in my mind as I read on. You bring home the sense of loss with your last lines--
and as still as a stone."

Siggi in Downeast Maine said...

Thank you.
Mind boggling and spirit filled.
Could visualize the scenario so clearly...and the emotions too.

Robyn Greenhouse said...

I feel Caroline's sense of loss, but am curious about who her "married love" is that is calling? Perhaps that is for another poem?

Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil said...

Shay, thanks for a terrific prompt. Your poem is searingly real... I have been that cheetah girl, so sure of my grace and movements in nature. Then human nature (in the form of the married lover) kicked in, kicked me first in the ass and then in the gut... and yes, ending up prone. The cheetah aspect is a twist, and yet the tale (tail?!) is all too real. This is the SHIT! Amy

LaTonya Baldwin said...

Nothing I can add except how much I enjoyed this. I sat here afterwards, asborbing all that she felt and how spent I felt reading it.

Poet Laundry said...

You write so well the fruitlessness and emptiness of such a chase. Loss indeed.

Lynn said...

Gorgeous and sad.

Sarah Russell said...

Exquisite. The chase she knows is impossible. Your poem carried me through all of the heartsick emotions of the unattainable love. So well done!