Two Poems

by Tina Cane


If it isn’t a mother peeling an orange for her son if it isn’t a soldier hiding from choppers heart of bamboo it is one’s own father living in a tree house in his own mother’s yard unable to shed the ghosts it is his white uniform hung on the door of a pink tiled bathroom for a final shave or the photo of a bride in a mini dress kept in a flowered suitcase by the door it is a fear of fire memories filigreed like lace or birds scattered like buckshot from the tops of towers and if not birds then it is people pixelated to grains of sand as if information or children linking arms across a corridor to make a finish line and if not them then one’s own children climbing a shady tree suspended in the lens of their own mother’s eye if not a rush to perceive oneself Can I see? Can I see? it is a rush to hold hands through the fire the birds and the children it is a push to shed ghosts if it isn’t sacred space of school bus it is ninja lunchbox and secret coat closet an invincible way home if it isn’t never being crouched beneath a desk it is the right to say anything unmolested it is empire and oysters in the bay a seagate spanning the entire state it is restoration or a watermark above the sideboard that is not indelible it is unassailable sky indivisible sea if not right action then it is right speech or inviolate fatigue possessing every frozen delicacy in the Stop & Shop at midnight and trees shading trees on solitary streets it is smoking in one’s car which is the opposite of breathing it is wanting to do both all the same and if not that then it is having indelicate thoughts beneath the delicate leaves of trees shades of one’s own breathing

NOCTURNE: ONCE MORE WITH FEELING Call it mezzo this middle place where I do not sleep rather take shape of what a Milanese matriarch sheathed in cashmere language won’t protect me from the pursuit of profit or the butcher’s embrace   if not love what am I a shape eating sandwiches alone in a motel if not love then what a handbag I could stand here all night in the supermarket staring at the weekly special wondering from what cloth I was cut the sky the sea the shape of me resisting profit the butcher’s embrace soft but at a price here in this middle place call it what you will language won’t protect me from the shape I take from what I hold alone

Tina Cane

Tina Cane was born in Hell’s Kitchen, NYC in 1969 and grew up in the city’s East and West Village. She attended the University of Vermont, the Sorbonne and completed her master’s degree in French Literature at the Université de Paris IV-Nanterre. She is the founder and director of Writers-in-the-Schools, RI. Over the past twenty years, she has taught French, English and Creative Writing in public and private schools throughout New York City and Rhode Island. Tina’s poems and translations have appeared in numerous journals including Hanging Loose, Spinning Jenny, The Literary Review, Barrow Street and Salt Hill Journal. Her work, The Fifth Thought, was published by Other Painters Press in 2008. In addition to working as a teaching poet in her program, Tina is an instructor with the writing community Frequency Providence. She lives just outside of the capital city with her husband and their three children.