All the words had been spoken,
the ta-ta-ings, adios-ings,
Princesse, au revoir, echoes
of good-day, madam, good-
noon, good sir, good child,
good-past-noon, all the words
we use to mark the crush of ebb.
In his farewell, Washington
said, I am influenced
by no diminution of zeal
for your future, wishing for more
than a simple ciao
as he departed, as in parting--
at a party, an expatriation,
excision--is such sweet sorrow.
In Miyazaki's farewell film,
"The Wind Rises,"
Caproni insists Airplanes
are beautiful dreams, a dream
vacation abroad, a bon voyage,
contraction, interjection. An Olde
Englishman would bend it
God be w'ye assuming
the sky-blue span
of forever, an admonition
to his God, and how
the heart can break
at that moment, so long;
so long you have held
my heart in your hands,
the parting, release, contract,
a fist of constriction. How
over adieu. Nothing
is simple, no uncoupling
unconscious, no valedictory
address on the stoop,
tear-less, no point
on the spectrum, good-less.
my love, I would
I were thy bird.
The Lady in the Iron Mask
Screws fasten onto a table. I picture
an impact wench. Apply even torque,
a little on each bolt until the final click
of silence meaning, you're here for a while,
the head can't move. My mind drapes
a cloth over it to form a heart, its metal
mesh shaped into a smirk around the mouth,
two caves for sockets meant to keep them closed.
Flashes of light through tight pinches
that might be a camera taking photos
if you stretch. My sister tells me,
while lying there, she can see the brightness
beneath the translucent shells
of her lids. I try to recall the story of Dauger
and how he spent his life boxed-in
until even historians don't know for sure
it was he who lived beneath the grills.
I ask her if she's nervous, having her brain
blasted like that. No. It only hurts, she says,
not being able to move my head for long stretches.
Dauger, servant to a servant, may have also counted
minutes: breakfast at nine, lunch at two, dinner
at eight. Whatever you do, don't move,
the tech tells her and I imagine Dauger's obedience,
the mask growing to love his face.
Grace Curtis’ book, The Shape of a Box, was published in 2014 by Dos Madres Press. Her chapbook, The Surly Bonds of Earth, was selected by Stephen Dunn as the 2010 winner of the Lettre Sauvage chapbook contest, and she has been nominated for a Pushcart award. Her prose and poetry has been or is forthcoming in such journals as Sou’wester, The Baltimore Review, Waccamaw Literary Journal, Blood Orange Review, and others. www.gracecurtispoetry.com