International Women’s Day


   I want a parley with the dead,
   My own first, my beautiful grandmother

   The opera singer. I am older now

   Than she ever was, a measurement

   For which there is no name I know,

    Though it is a familiar attainment;

    I have gone beyond her twice,

    In my own years and the world’s,

    Counted out by the universal clock,

    The boles of trees more resilient than birches.

    Or is it that she will never catch up,

    Though she had a head start, able

    To recognize how I resemble her aunt,

    The shape of my hand in a glove?

    The wisdom of an ancestress requires

    My deference. She’s trailing behind me.

    I keep looking back at her but the distance

    Doesn’t close, the relay impossible.

    I’d like to talk, to be talked to, two women;

    I’d like to hear about the flights to Brazil

    And whether singing an aria ever made her lonely.

    I wear the pearls she left, not to me

    Because her son was too young then to ever be

    A father. He gave me her name with the pearls.

They suit me; I think I could use them

To summon her and she would laugh,

Remembering how she wore them

To the beach, kept away from salt water.


Am I the stupidest person in the world?

    My tender belief in you, in each one of you,

    Is subject to gravity the way a feather is,

    Held aloft by a breath, by that teased air,

    Powerless to alight or to climb, to proceed

    Without its broad, determined wing.

I hold everything you say in an antechamber,

Marble-tiled, the tumbling dust golden, stale.

It’s the residence of spiders and supplicants,

Not refugees who would be granted asylum.

    I am never decided. I cannot judge whether the truth

Is a river’s rubbed stone, round in my cupped palm,

    Or a diamond cutting your regnant name in the glass,

    Honey drawing ants, trapping the largest,

    Each one built like a shoe, shining in patent leather.


    No one told me what I would lose,

    To gain your dear confidence.

Daisy Bassen is a practicing psychiatrist and poet with a degree in English from Princeton University. Her work has appeared in Oberon, The Sow's Ear, AMWA Literary Review, The Opiate, SUSAN and many others. She was a semi-finalist in the 2016 Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry. She lives in Rhode Island with her husband and children. 

Ryan Francesconi

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