Grace Cavalieri



Upstairs on Warren Street, in the Jewelry shop, we watched

the jeweler carve the letters of our names

with all the dollars that you’d saved.


It was silver with my name on the front in cursive swirls,

and yours, BLOCK letters on the back.

I was seventeen and we wore matching figured sweaters,

the style then,

blue with white stars, woolen, like  sweaters at that time.


Years passed, houses and children came and went and

I forgot the time and money that we spent

                        until you died

and then, among your “Personals”—dog tags, worn to Laos,

(although you thought it would be just another cruise)—there,

attached to your dog tags, my I.D. bracelet fixed chain to chain.


I put it around my wrist and wore it every day

these past two years

until it went away last week. Where it dropped, I’ll never

know. I searched every store and drawer, dove down the

swimming pool to reach the bottom. Others helped. I called

each place I’d been and then dear Cindy bought

a brand new one which I’ll engrave with our old names,

but now I know the sign—I think—

You, Ken, bought it, carried it to sea and now took it back again,

generous Indian giver, saying “I release you now to start life,

a new life, to start again, unchained—




Although you are dead the vellum postcard comes addressed to you:

“since you are free again,” “now that you are single . . .” 

“would you like to meet a friend of a friend?”


My dear dead husband,

Do you remember her? We double dated once, years ago.

She was small, Japanese, had a BMW convertible?                                       


(You suddenly take human form in the grey striped suit

you wore for weddings, hair grown  black again)


You shine and glow with the vibrato of such a meeting.


And I shrink with fear. Now this, just when I was trying

to live alone with my hopes of a bigger stage

and the satisfaction of artichokes, a single plum,


butter, potatoes and a half bottle of Plonk.

That means you and she will take our savings

and the old viola, and surely, it is yours, and who


can doubt it, or complain? We are no longer married.

I’m a widow, not a victim, just a woman

carrying a stack of pillows up the stairs to my apartment.


Tonight I’ll lie alone after plunging food

into the boiling water, wiping away the crumbs of my life

with you, cooking whatever there is that’s left.

Grace Cavalieri’s newest publication is a chapbook, Gotta Go Now (Casa Menendez, 2012). She’s the author of 16 books and chapbooks of poetry, as well as 28 produced plays, short-form and full-length. Her recent books—Millie’s Tiki Villas, Sounds Like Something I Would Say, and Anna Nicole: Poems—are on Kindle’s free lending library. For 35 years, Grace has produced and hosted “The Poet and the Poem” on public radio, recorded at the Library of Congress and transmitted nationally via NPR and Pacifica. She is the poetry columnist for The Washington Independent Review of Books. Her play “Anna Nicole: Blonde Glory” opened in NYC in 2011. Her play “Quilting the Sun” opened in S.C. in 2011.



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