Monday, May 14, 2012

#33: Two Poems by Sandra Marchetti

~This poem previously appeared in Phoebe: A Journal of Literature and Art (2010)

Le Parc des Suicides 

We both chased
the heron, the bridge,
a rafting concrete wave
hard and high.

My jaw dredged across
the watery flood blood—
green water and open
to receive me off

the bastion train track,
bust track—
a human’s perch,
a faction, a fraction—

to be untied,
and given to granite,
carved into a willing water.
A dressage of slipping rocks
braced for the fall.

against the sidewalls
of underwater
blood canyons,

our flexed stomachs carve cold
tidal eaves,
shredding skin,
making shifts of ice.

What’s young
comes lick-swift, dying
hard off the two-tiered bridge.
A loud, dark past
flinches the nuclear edges.

Water lilies and
still-motioning swings:
this is the heron’s


~This poem previously appeared in Phoebe: A Journal of Literature and Art (2010)

“Cold dark deep and absolutely clear”
                                                ~Elizabeth Bishop

The water a sheet of beat tin, it is a June song
in March, ripples for welcome.  Army and gray
colors tell us why the season resists the call

of our bodies displayed on the nightstand—the interior
brave replica of summer, stilted
in daguerreotype, printed gauzily. The white light

needed over our shoulders to see the ream, the functioning
slide.  The bed is still yellow—a blushing pastel paper
out of context in the hoardy season.  Even

the white bell doilies breathe in dust
from the half-light time.  Not entirely shade but
clear gray out across the ledge

and many measures more, a little water flits
between a split-trunk tree.  It is
what we imagine June to be: a sliver

of wet movement, an arc that asks for colors
to ice it hotly and shake the shake of gray.



“Le Parc des Suicides” was written about a local park I frequented as a child and still go to often—Island Park in Geneva, IL.  Island Park runs through the Fox River and has a particularly shivering aura at night, though it is the most lushly beautiful place in the daytime.  I have visited in all seasons: one day, as a child, I read the entirety of Roald Dahl’s The BFG there.  I wrote this poem after hearing a story about the park from a friend native to Geneva.  She told me that in recent years many young people had attempted to commit suicide from atop the tall bridge that marks the southern boundary of the park.  I am still haunted by this image.  The energy of the park reflects this legend so absolutely—it is eerily quiet at night until a freight train crashes into the place, over the bridge, shaking the grounds wildly.  This poem comes from the inner nervousness of exploring Island Park.
Conversely, “Cold dark deep and absolutely clear” is more of an “interior landscape” that came about during a visit to a friend’s farm in Virginia.  “At the Fishhouses” is my favorite Elizabeth Bishop poem, and I had just finished reading it again when I drafted this piece.  The beautiful refrain of how knowledge and purity resolve themselves in the bitter Nova Scotian waters is image that is scored into me.  At the moment I finished reading, I looked up and felt the air.  To my Midwestern bones it was so warm for early spring.  Right then, I felt I needed to write down Bishop’s refrain, just to see and hear it more readily.  I did, and the rest of this poem followed.  I think of her line as my poem’s guide, its (real) first line, and its title. 
At least two other factors played a role in the creation of this piece as well: my host explained how her youngest brother loved to build forts on the farm’s many acres, and pointed to one out in the distance, calling it “his last fort” before he left for the (actual) U.S. Army.  Some imagery in the poem is pulled from this lovely observation on my friend’s part.  I was also enrolled in an Emily Dickinson class at the time, which clearly had some effect.  I seem fascinated with doilies, the confines of a room (and looking out from one), and of course, “measures.”


Sandra Marchetti teaches writing and literature at Elmhurst College outside of her native Chicago.  She completed her MFA in Poetry at George Mason University in 2010.  Sandra was named the winner of the Midwest Writing Center’s 2011 Mississippi Valley Chapbook Contest for her volume, The Canopy.  She was also a finalist in Gulf Coast’s 2011 Poetry Prize and Phoebe’s 2009 Greg Grummer Poetry Contest.  Sandy has recently published poems in Spiral Orb, CURA Magazine, Phoebe, and Poydras Review.  She is an assistant poetry editor at Fifth Wednesday Journal and publishes poetry reviews for PIF Magazine. Sandra has poems forthcoming from Ohio State’s The Journal, dirtcakes, and The River Oak Review.  You can also find her at


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