I want to understand why
when I was riding the bus downtown
last week, this girl, not more
than nineteen, standing next to me,
her stomach a small, round gourd,
whispered a barely audible, I’m so scared.
I tried to do right by her then
as much contained as she was
by what resided inside of her,
listing every reassurance a man
might conceive: the long line
of women nature had placed before her,
the fact that soon she would be
less alone. But everything
came out sounding like conjured lies
issued from some inept magician,
fanning out his deck of cards,
asking her to go ahead and pick one,
and then folding in the rest of the deck,
leaving her to stand there
holding the single card in her hand
that neither of us could possibly know.
Tony Magistrale is currently Professor and Chair of
the English Department at the University of Vermont.
His book of poems, What She Says About Love, won
the 2007 Bordighera Poetry Prize and was subsequently
published in 2008 as a bilingual edition by the
Bordighera Press and the John D. Calandra Italian
American Institute at City University of New York.