Sarah Carey: “Lacuna”


Great-aunt Nina’s tiny souvenirs
from Europe, tucked in tissue
in a cardboard box a niece would find
generations from her person,
transferred home to home—

dreams of Paris, Rome, as far away
or close as touch. Our mother’s life
in scrapbooks bagged and tied, in white ink
on black paper, captioning her birth, first ocean

swim, tea party. Look—they toast the baby
while the Great Depression rages, just as Nero
fiddled while Rome burned, while we
flip aging pages, all they hold still perfectly intact

as if we could gather an inkling
of her origins and take it home,
bind her early life to later to our own

as if we could learn from letters she kept
ribboned in a folder, all she never told us—
trauma, separation, therapy, her diary,
two husbands, hopes for reconciliation honed.
We know what happens next,

how open endings close. When movers come for the armoire
and her low-boy chest, I palm the brass pulls
one last time, breathe emptiness—

a lacuna where we’d found Aunt Nina’s sterling
folded in a secret drawer, a spot we nearly missed,
by the divider separating silver dollars, underwear,
the cat’s old collar, ankle socks and sleep shirts

gone to thrift stores when our mother left
for good, bequeathing all she couldn’t take
and wouldn’t now recall.

Sarah Carey has had recent or forthcoming poems in Five Points, Sugar House Review, Florida Review, Zone 3, Redivider, River Heron Review, Split Rock Review, Atlanta Review, and elsewhere. Her book reviews have appeared recently in Salamander, EcoTheo Review, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and Los Angeles Review. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks, including Accommodations (2019), winner of the Concrete Wolf Chapbook Award.

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