After Paisley Rekdal
I let touch me in an alley, and not the boat to the island
of glassblowers after. Not the fish sandwiches
sitting in flies, and not the nightly forced
vomiting, arm braced over lid. Not squid ink,
not lace, not the vague space beneath
archways, not how I was lost so often in the rain,
and late, too, a bell tolling over the plaza.
November, aqua alta, the season for high water.
Not the slippage of cities, the flooded
Basilica, and not Saint Mark, his everyday name,
his cruel repetitions, Saint Marks Place
or his Avenue, like the bells and the tolling,
the acrid taste on the tongue, the women and allies,
not the slats, not the masks, not the thought am I crazy,
counting yellow pills on the commuter ferry,
or describing the animal drowned in the canal
to the tall woman touching me in the alley,
not an Italian word that sounded like opera,
not the cellists playing on the dark water
like so many ferrymen preparing
for burial, not the last argument, olive pits
a former lover mailed from America, not the wish
to be saved or the wish to be transitory,
just the sound of glass, which is the sound of glass shattering.
Madeleine Cravens is a second-year MFA student at Columbia, where she is the Max Ritvo Poetry Fellow. She was the first place winner of Narrative Magazine’s 2021 Poetry Contest and 2020 30 Below Contest, a semifinalist for the 92 Street Y’s 2021 Discovery Prize, a finalist for the 2021 Hunger Mountain Ruth Stone Prize, and a runner-up for the Key West Literary Seminar’s Scott Merril Award. Her poems and essays can be found in the Brooklyn Rail, Best of the Net, the Florida Review, Frontier Poetry, Narrative Magazine, Nashville Review, New Ohio Review, Palette Poetry, and Washington Square Review, among others.