She fell in the street,
strangers dodged traffic to reach
the spot where she crumpled,
a tree torn kite,
a grounded star
separated from her herd.
She thinks of climbing mountains
with her father and brothers
in the hills just beyond Trieste.
She wore a heavy coat in hot weather
her frailty almost smoke but animal.
Pedestrian strangers wanted to help
and looked on her a bird fallen
out of orbit from another time,
they could scoop her into a shoe box
nested with soft leaves and cotton wool,
a miniature creature you find in fields.
Her protestations in Italian and French
chirped and croaked from her throat
silted with years, stayed their gesture
to take her to hospital, call an ambulance,
lips purple with internal cold,
no fear, no fear, except
whatever she escaped long ago,
a train, a long forced walk.
Someone bunched up a thin white summer
sweater to cushion her head on the asphalt
Leave me, she pleaded,
her voice rough needed oiling,
thin grey hair strong with scent,
a miracle of brokenness,
she has no bones it seems,
nothing to break,
whatever broke long ago
had fallen away,
she looked up into the sky
and clouds took on the colour
of mountain flowers she knew
as a child, Persian rugs she sat
on as a child,
her leg bloodied,
she felt a gentle someone tenderly
mop away the blood…
“My family ran a haberdashery,
I sewed suits without ever taking
a measurement. You don’t know
good tailoring do you?”
We learned this sitting at her feet
in the intersection
under clouds the colour of mountain
flowers and carpets she smuggled
through wars, around continents,
a broken winged blue piper
of feathers frayed, gummed with oil,
a jay-walking woolen cloaked gazelle.
Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 22, Issue 2.
See all items about Cheryl Ann Passanisi