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Natalie Esposito '03

Natalie Esposito graduated from EIU with a BA in English in May, 2003, and received an MA from NIU in May, 2005. Since attending NIU, she has worked as an academic advisor and taught freshman night courses. —JDK


From this

So then I had it: a letter, an apology, unsolicited regrets—
calling me back, seven years distant, to Charleston.
I forgave. For just a moment, I took this relief and slept in it.
From this I found comfort that was gradual and consuming
the way snow drops and then covers everything.
We did not talk about what we had and what was left—
an afternoon, a month, a later time,
worth only what we were willing to spare for it.

fast it disappeared,
returning to where we had been before spring
where the wind cut the clouds to cast safer shadows—
we were forgotten and
you disappeared the way you came.

Before fall I buckled, but not faintly—
tenderly, as if someone had helped me to my knees. I gave in.
And some rain from Chicago returned you to me, from La Crosse, from Charleston,
further, from Ohio where your roots had waited for rain. You were a memory by then. A
memory of what had been of love, and of suffering. I felt your absence everywhere, I
joined you. And I understood; could now feel how big it had been in our aftermath.



a poem after the death of my father’s mother

So there’s this woman
with coke bottle glasses
and a brown coat
at the Laundromat.
Her face
blends into the smells
of fabric softener and fast food
but the glasses,
so familiar

This woman, my grandmother
with coke bottle glasses
went on a trip
and died in the desert
2,000 miles from home.
We got the news over sandwiches,
I heard it in my grandfather’s voice

This woman, my grandmother
his Snow White
didn’t want anyone to watch her sleep
so she chose ashes instead of the box,
afraid of the way she looked
with her eyes closed.


Most Nights

I think by now it is time I gave you up.
I imagine the field, the one behind your house,

is dried and brown. The Midwest winter has taken
back the grass and the leaves.

I can tell you now, midnights I've crossed that field
weeks before the August heat, before the coolness of autumn

claimed the long grass and the dirt. I gather crickets,
Queen Anne’s Lace, I fill my pockets with fireflies

damp leaves from the dirt, willingly. I wait
till I feel the night on my skin—the thickness in the air above me.

The grass settles and I’m in it, it is right here,
the field against my legs. I pull the field from the dirt and roots

in bunches.
I keep it.

With two hands full I come to where we had been
the field between us.

With two hands I hold dust and webs; weeds and roots; brittle sticks and long grass
I come to find and take only what is left.


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