Tresha Faye Haefner’s poetry appears, or is forthcoming in several journals and magazines, most notably Blood Lotus, Blue Mesa Review, The Cincinnati Review, Five South, Hunger Mountain, Mid-America Review, Pirene’s Fountain, Poet Lore, Prairie Schooner, Radar, Rattle, TinderBox and Up the Staircase Quarterly. Her work has garnered several accolades, including the 2011 Robert and Adele Schiff Poetry Prize, and a 2012, 2020, and 2021 nomination for a Pushcart. Her first manuscript, “Pleasures of the Bear” was a finalist for prizes from both Moon City Press and Glass Lyre Press. It is still looking for a publisher. Find her at www.thepoetrysalon.com.
My job is to protect her. Hang the blood-stained
linen bandages, and pull them in before anyone sees.
To close the bathroom door before
she takes out her teeth, to cover
all her sores in cream.
On our trip to Venice, she doesn’t want to talk
to strangers. Everyone a wolf, or an inconvenience,
a bridge she cannot cross.
She has a new hole in her trachea, gurgles
language, needs me and my sister
to interpret meaning from a cataclysm of sounds.
We get tired. Carry her, in her wheelchair,
over the Bridge of Sighs,
plan the easiest route from St. Mark’s Public Square
to a private room where she can nap.
Our job is to practice kindness, to mother her
with ice chips, hot Americano, and easy
entertainment. And this is why I became a poet,
so I could tell this story, without saying too much.
Not to reveal the truth, but to conceal
her sores in metaphor, so you could suffer with us,
but only so much, as we walk together
this floating city, walled fortress, speaking
a gorgeous language
I still can’t understand.
Four roses of bourbon blossom
in a glass, you sing
me into orchestra, running through catacombs.
Snails gild a halo around the rim of their shells.
Paris, a palimpsest, covering over my ugly
Mistakes. The boys I didn’t marry.
The famous French actress
I never became. My hands
freckle. My arms fall
from my sides. The Venus de Milo
exhausted from guarding so much of the sea.
Paris, we are in disrepair. A cathedral looted
of morning vespers, dizzy from wandering
this unplanned chaos. Wash us now, with rain.
Take us on your river.
I climb into this bateau, drift
down the Seine. Every beautiful object
erasing me under the feet of angels,
sad enough to take me home.