Juliana McCarthy

Illustration

There is this picture

torn from a book 

a favorite, a model for how 

I should appear—

idealized for a twelve year old

who knew already knew that a girl

in her father's world would always

stand apart and figure less 

his boy was a girl his son 

and heir was a girl

the older than a girl in the picture

wears an ankle length skirt with 

a white linen blouse

she holds what could be 

a handkerchief or a wide ribbon

for her dark hair

her other hand reaches to

a tall man who is facing her,

she looks away from

him—looks away and down.


Music 101

We went to concerts at colleges and universities. Major 

artists at student prices we could afford. Claremont

College gave us first Sills and now Pavarotti. We brought 

our scores for this one, Bizet, Puccini, Verdi, Schuman

and the recital favorites. Pages turning like locusts cutting

through fields of dry corn. Intermission was noisy, we were 

excited and inspired, fairly running back to our seats. Then

he sang Caro Mio Ben and the air left our lungs.


Our first song right out of Schirmer’s “Twenty Four Italian Songs.”

After all those scales we finally had a melody, a lyric—Caro mio ben. 

And here was how it could sound, how it should sound.  A hymn

of yearning “Thou, all my bliss, without you senza di te

languisce my heart languishes” not our strangled climb to

the next note and the next note and the next.  We closed 

our books and slouched in our seats. “cessa crudel cease cruel one ”

chastised, throats slashed, grateful.


Julianna McCarthy is a Schieble Sonnet Prize winner, a Pushcart Prize Nominee, and a Marsh Hawk Press Prize finalist.  Her poems have appeared in The Antioch Review, American Journal of Poetry,  Tidal Basin Review, Best Poem, Nimrod and others. Her chapbook Everything Hurts was recently released by Latitude 34 Press, her chapbook Photoplay was released by Finishing Line Press in 2010.  She holds an MFA from New England College. 

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