Frostwriting

Two poems

by Susan de Sola

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In the Espresso Bar at Bologna Airport

Oh I would like to have the Italian sandwich bar
at the airport, with its one glass wall
framing planes, disconnected step-stairs
and gatherings of cases,
an Italian sandwich bar
with a sweet assortment of panini
and paidi with provolone lips,

luciferi with guts of hot salami,
pan pizza and tramezzino,
ciabatta al cotto, a selection of sodas and spirits
and occasional liqueurs, the regular lager,
and twelve sorts of coffee, some dribbled with alcohol—
and no tea, no tea at all,

neat squares of cellophaned boxes of hard candy
and hanging sacks of soft Haribo gummies
bulging with color, a very few slices of pie
under glass and glazed pastry and a lone croissant left,
so you’d know they’d been fresh,

and I’d serve in an apron only waist high
and clang the coffee holder
on the stainless steel counter
or lean on the narrow bar
of polished black granite
to write it all down,

there’d be ice creams in paper and muesli bars in foil
for the lunatic fringe, but the main business would be
small cups of espresso Segafredo Zanetti
and the small black cups would chime
as I’d rinse them clean,

the cups of those who lean on the ledge,
watch the clock, chat and leave
lipstick traces, crumpled sugar papers
and the ghostly scent
of longed for imaginary cigarettes

whose puff-studded trail
leads outside, where the thin white stubs
of cigarette-airplanes
scatter in the sky.


Paola and the Cricket

He’d wanted a frog, not a tarantula or snake.
It seemed simple: a dish for rocks, water and plants,
and a daily diet of live crickets. She’d buy whole batches,
crawling. She teased them out one by one with pincers.
Squat and still, the tongue, uncoiled, cleft
and sticky would ladle one in, the great jaws
of hell swinging shut, in bug-eyed glaze of fixity, and muscular chewing.

Hating it, she kept up the system; her son expected it.
One rogue bug escaped, disdained his fate to be frog-food,
fish-food or fish-bait.  Found a way under the floorboards,
to the crawl spaces, a warm duct or molding panel,
lived there on soggy bits, smaller bugs or spores.
In the perpetual dark, he sawed wings, their serrated edges
and acoustical sails to bloom each night, marring her sleep.
For months he sang with his wings—
to wail his brothers’ fates? To lure a mate? To castigate?

Three months she did not sleep, a thousand auguries,
and in crack of dawn, they met again, bleary-eyed
in the bathroom light.  He was fat and silent, he’d prospered below.
It was not a moment’s thought.  She shot her wool-slippered foot
from the flaps of her robe.  Crushed it on the spot.

Susan de Sola is an American poet living in the Netherlands. She has poems published or forthcoming in The Hudson Review, The Hopkins Review, American Arts Quarterly, Measure, Light Quarterly, River Styx, Per Contra, Fringe Magazine and Ambit (UK), among other venues.  She is a recipient of the David Reid Poetry Translation Prize, and as a photographer has collaborated with Clive Watkins on a chapbook, Little Blue Man (Seabiscuit Press).

Issue 12 contents

Poetry