By Frank Matagrano

One mother who owned
       the sea, one father who walked

on water, and in a row boat,
       one brother who believed

marriage meant becoming
       the roof over a woman’s head.

A room for the night with a view
       of the water, the moon a quarter

less than it should have been,
       the shape of my wife drawn

into the empty bed one memory
       at a time. There were too many

stars to count, a registry
       of old gifts and receipts strewn

across the sky, a mess
       of things that died getting here.

(Today’s poem originally appeared in Rattle and appears here today with permission from the poet.)

Frank Matagrano is the author of I Can Only Go As Fast As the Guy in Front of Me (Black Lawrence Press). His poems have appeared in Rhino, Cimarron Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, Gargoyle and Ninth Letter, among others. He lives and works in Chicago, Illinois.

Editor’s Note: Today’s poem makes a promise with its title. And yet, when the goods are delivered, the reader is surprised to receive them. We enter the poem via a personal worldview in macro, looking to the marriages that shape the poet’s expectations of marriage. And yet, when the poet turns toward his own marriage, when he moves to deliver on the title’s promise, there is something startling in the way we turn toward his loss. How lovely, simple, and devastating to consider “the shape of my wife drawn // into the empty bed one memory / at a time.”

Want to read more by and about Frank Matagrano?
Black Lawrence Press National Poetry Month Spotlight 2012
Black Lawrence Press National Poetry Month Spotlight 2011
From East to West


  1. ‘Across the sky, a mess
    of things that died getting here.’ Nice. Concise. Created clarity.

    And, in honor of Winter Solstice, I suppose: ‘One mother who owned
    the sea ~~~’ Blessed Be. Happiness and Joy, Light and Light and more Light.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s