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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, July 9, 2018.
About this Poem 

“I am attempting to look frankly at the damage that echoes through me, the grief that evokes, and the possibility for change. I am trying to quit thinking of simple human decency as a form of heroism, both in my poems and in the world.”
—Gabrielle Calvocoressi

Homecoming Cistern Alien Vessel

Oh, my planet, how beautiful 
you are. Little curve that leads me 
to the lakeside. Let me step out

of the sack of skin I wore 
on earth. It’s good to be home. 
No more need to name me. No more 

need to make the shape of a machete
with my mouth. Pushing up up up the tired 
sides that want to drop below my teeth.

Lord, I’ve missed you. The streets
covered all day in light from the moons. 
I was confused all the time. I wanted so much.

My hole felt like a gut with an antler
rammed through it. So lonely and strange
and always trying to smile. Coin of the realm.

And my arms open and my life
coming in and out of the “ATM.”
Once I saw a fox leap inside the morning

light and made the same shape
of myself. Once I watched the boats
and also rocked back and forth.

How does every person not cry out 
all the time? Yes, it was good to eat 
doughnuts. Yes. I was blessed by many 

days of joy. A rabbit in the driveway.
A rosemary bush with a sorcerer’s cloak
of spider webs. Brian Eno. 

The Hammond B3 Organ that never asked
me who I knew. But that body.
Like a factory. That mind like a ship

built to pile in other bodies. Skin like a
sow without any of the sow’s equanimity.
It reflected nothing. Pink skin. Blue eyes

hard as an anvil. Like a window with covering
that refuses the passerby’s gaze. I loved 
the bully power some days. Oh my pleasure 

in not causing harm. My pride. I’m not like 
so-and-so. My pink skin preaching, my pink skin 
yawping out my other hole, “I did not choke 

the man with my elbow!” “Would never!” 
“I let all the boys in hoodies walk
through dark streets.” “I did not shoot

them with my guns!” The ship rising
up inside me. As if the fox felt pride 
for not tearing the bird to pieces. As if 

the owl’s heart grew large from not 
wrecking the squirrel’s nest. My pink skin 
a sail full of indignation. My eyes pitching

across the feed. It is so good to be home
and yet. I have a ship inside. How can 
the organ welcome me? I’m not a sow 

on her worst day. Which would be what? 
Breaking from the barn? Eating all the acorns
and rolling in the mud? No.

Her worst would be at my hands 
and on my plate for supper. Grow
like the tree, the man who heals

the bodies said. In every way I became
the ship rising in the harbor. 
How can I be welcomed after that?

Copyright © 2018 by Gabrielle Calvocoressi. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 9, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2018 by Gabrielle Calvocoressi. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 9, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Gabrielle Calvocoressi

Gabrielle Calvocoressi

Gabrielle Calvocoressi's most recent poetry collection is Rocket Fantastic (Persea Books, 2017).

by this poet

poem
It's ridiculous what fame
can buy you. Not the beast
but the tiny, frightened
man who brings him
in a cage from Alhambra,
who stands in the doorway
as the three girls finish,
get off the bed and walk down 
to the pool, giggling as they pass.
The Bandleader borrowed
a tiger because we saw it 
in a reel the studio
poem
Some lose children in lonelier ways:
tetanus, hard falls, stubborn fevers

that soak the bedclothes five nights running.
Our two boys went out to skate, broke

through the ice like battleships, came back
to us in canvas bags: curled

fossils held fast in ancient stone,
four hands reaching. Then two

sad beds
poem

Summers spent practicing in the apartment
stairwell: hand on the bannister, one foot after
another. Did I ever tell you I couldn’t walk

until I was three and then sort of dragged
myself up and downstairs until I was seven
or eight? That burgundy carpet.

I’d stop to breathe and look