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Poems by Paola Corso  

(CavanKerry Press, 2012)    

​Tillie Olsen Award for Creative Writing

  Binghamton University Milt Kessler Book Award Finalist  

  Fore Word Magazine’s Poetry Book of the Year Finalist  





She swore off cigarettes, thinking

the cost of the cartons she’d save

every week would be enough


money to rent a room, move

out of her father’s house.

But then Stubby cut her hours


again and the Maytag suds saver

broke the same day.

She was right in the middle


of a rinse when gray recycled water

flooded the garage floor. She kicked

the machine square in the gut,


didn’t care what her father said

about conserving water, didn’t care

that they had had that machine


for as long as she’s been driving—

her aunt was right to use clean water

and not a suds saver. They stopped


making them in 2001, which

told her something. She kicked

it again and rescued her clothes out


of the filthy water. Before she could

mop the floor, her father came back

from church, drove his four-door sedan


halfway into the garage. He saw

a dirty river run toward

his new whitewall tires, slammed


the brakes, got out, grabbed

her clothes, and threw them

on the ground to soak up


the water. The sight sent her

out the door for a smoke, though

she told her dad she was going


to call a repairman. She ran

to her car parked up the street,

got in and rolled up the windows


so she could inhale through

her mouth and nose as if sitting

in the chambers of her lungs.




There was no twister out her window,

no gale spinning a black cloud.

She mused at the shingled pyramid

floating above her and dreamt

her father climbed a ladder

and tried to yank the roof down.

Her uncle attempted to use reason,  

how long could it defy gravity,

how long before she pictured

a baby in her arms, each hiccup

lifting the roof, lowering it

until she put the child on her breast

and the roof grew still.

But she missed the sky,

she missed its blue mission,

the clouds that pillowed her thoughts

and elevated them to dream.

She blew out her baby’s candle

and as the pyramid drifted off,

she knew it was her own breath

reaching forthe possibility of air.

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Copyright © 2020 Paola Corso. All Rights Reserved.


Cover Photo-Death (2).jpg
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