Olivia V. Ambrogio


the quick flesh of them
as I hold them up
quivering like grapes,
the light glancing through
searching for a seed.

I didn’t know they grew
in bunches, ovals trailing
loose stems pearled with suction
cups, ovals gripped in a mucus-caul
clinging to a reed.

Funny, they didn’t burst
open on the wedged rocks,
in the grind of sand
the wave’s steady hand
pressing them to come home.

Intact, against the light,
they are gems hanging still
on a green necklace, their slim
tentacles, trapped in the unbirthed slime, half
curled, paused casually as the limbs
of expert mimes

who know their cue
to come alive. They could do it—
so perfectly at rest, how could they not
awake? Still,
they hesitate: little
lost children, as if they had waited here
for me to come find them.

Return to Top


but they don’t say if it comes
from turning your gaze too often
to fix on that changeful disk whose wax
and wane, coquettish as love sworn
by its wavering light, puts such a strain
on the eyes,

or if your own dark globes turn
clear as bulbs, as milk,
filmed with luster, shifting
with inconstant suggestions of craters,
faces, delicately pocked
as the unbroken surface of an egg

—or if, worst of all,
you nightly look to heaven
only to see, specked with stars
ghostly as shadow-floaters on retinas,
a blank gape
open and endless
in the once effulgent sky

Return to Top

Vision of loveliness

She left me
for having fallen in love
with the microscope; at first
a petty infatuation, it expanded
to ten times its original size,
blotted out all
that was clearly common sense
to the naked eye.

I would squander my salary on gifts
for it: new lenses, finer oil solutions, those smooth,
silken tissues that softly rub
(but never scratch)
the glass. I confused
its Valentine’s present with hers,
didn’t realize
until the waterproof plastic cover crinkled
in her astonished grip.

I began to take it out
with us, unable to resist the urge
to examine the linen tablecloth
at 40x, could not stop myself
from showing her how much clearer the rose
looked under the dissecting scope’s light.
How could I tell,
eyes pressed to that delicate secret world,
that she was unhappy?

Now, repentant, I work to fix
the lens on a strand of her hair
caught in the lab’s doorway as she left.
Sentimental, perhaps, but I think,
as I try through tears to follow
the tight keratin labyrinths,
my focus has finally changed.

Return to Top