Casey FitzSimons

Like a stray word

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaspoken and withdrawn,
one leaf falls to touch the kitchen floor,
skittering an inch in its own wind
before it stills. The rose stems intersect

the blinds, transversals to the drooping heads
of blossoms browning in the morning light.
Curling downward from the drying blooms,
bracts that last week clutched dewy buds.

The water level in the vase has sunk
and left a speckled ring, the cellophane
beside the sink remains, its knotted ribbon
tangled in forgotten baby’s breath.

A plastic trident holds the tiny envelope,
in your haste still unaddressed.

Moving, a Sestina

The move, in her memory, is no more than a shadow
bounding, as though in emergency, down the stairwell,
and no louder than moths near the light at the ceiling
or the breath of a child standing still in a doorway,
bereft. Her bedroom, now furnished only with echoes,
dares her to step to the curtainless windows, the floor

mocking their hard light. The baseboards frame the floor
into the ghost of a landscape, bare trees in shadow,
their high twigs in silhouette at her feet. Dim echoes
of remembered rain pass on their way to the stairwell.
Ear at a cold, chattering pane, eyes on the doorway,
she fingers grit descended from the stuccoed ceiling.

Sliding things in the attic, men walk on her ceiling
in their boots, shaking fine white plaster dust to the floor.
A pair of them, a trunk between, edge past her doorway
until all that is left in the hall is their shadow
and the knocking and scraping coming from the stairwell,
the noises receding then returning as echoes

back up into the hall. Merging with high-pitched echoes
of her mother talking, the sounds meet near the ceiling
and fall with the last grains of dust. Up through the stairwell
her mother calls, reverberation humming the floor,
tickling her soles. Following a tree trunk’s dun shadow
she superimposes her own, moving toward the doorway,

scattering the dust. She stops in the yawning doorway.
The windows scold at her back with taunting echoes
of her own going. Stretching in the hall, her shadow
lingers as she clatters down past the foyer’s ceiling,
its glittering chandelier spilling onto the floor
its luminous snowflake, drawing her down the stairwell.

All that went on at the house slinks down the stairwell,
sidles in from the kitchen to the front doorway,
gathering to go or stay. The snowflake on the floor,
drowning in porchlight, marshals the last hollow echoes.
From the sidewalk she watches the windows and ceiling
go dark, takes the white hand from the coatsleeve in shadow.

She imagines the stairwell collecting the echoes,
sweeping them to her doorway, the dust to the ceiling,
night dousing the floor, consigning all else to shadow.


Casey FitzSimons is a widely published award-winning poet. She writes free verse as well as poetry in form. She has published fifteen poetry collections, most recently Waiting in the Car: Poems 2017. She has a masters degree in fine arts from San Jose State University. She does pro bono poetry editing and offers workshops in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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