Poetry

Poetry Sunday: 'Swinging Open,' by Millicent Borges Accardi

Swinging Open

for the youngest son

  How impossible at that age to lather up and take an open blade to my cheek. To match father’s thumbs, cracking the rabbit’s yielded neck. Surrounded by lemon trees, one quick motion, releases. Stories told around the picnic table. No Ellis Island. Rifles meant for culling lizards and desert prairie dogs. The pull of the gun bringing fear I could reach. Grandfather hid in a ship’s barrel, accused of murder in Petrepetzia. The unroofed patio where uncle played mandolin under plump summer evenings. Adult faces shiny and red, full of warm wine. The hutches waiting, covered. Hot stew simmered in trust. Father’s cough, temporary. How I miss the night drives to fig trees. Back home, father sits, pushing carrots around on a paper plate. My own core small, warm, and safe, beating rapidly. How delicious the world was when grandmother shook the linen table cloth into the wind.   Originally appeared in the International Poetry Review: Hispanic Edition, then published in Only More So (Salmon Poetry, Ireland, 2016), which can be ordered at www.salmonpoetry.com.  

Lisbon-Photo-2011Photo: Miguel Vaz.

Millicent Borges Accardi is the author of four poetry books: Injuring Eternity, Woman on a Shaky BridgePractical Love Poems, and most recently, Only More So. The recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, CantoMundo, Fulbright, Creative Capacity, the California Arts Council, Fundação Luso-Americana, and the Barbara Deming Foundation (Money for Women), Accardi has been in residence at Yaddo, Milkwood in Cesky Krumlov, Fundación Valparaíso in Spain, Jentel, and the Vermont Studio Center. She holds degrees in literature and writing from California State University, Long Beach and the University of Southern California. She has been a visiting writer at Keystone College in Scranton, Pennsylvania; Nimrod Writers Conference at Oklahoma University; The Muse Writers Center in Norfolk, Virginia; and the University of Texas at Austin. Her recent poems have been featured in Tampa Review, Witness, New Letters, Nimrod, and Mantis: A Journal of Poetry, Criticism & Translation. She founded the popular “Kale Soup for the Soul” literary series (Portuguese-American writers reading work about family, food and culture). Her interviews, reviews, and essays have appeared in The Writers Chronicle (AWP), Poets Quarterly, and The Messenger.   

Poet’s Note

I was listening to my husband Charles tell stories about his childhood in an immigrant family in the California desert and how they would drive there on weekends from Long Beach, where things were somehow freer in the wildness of the open land, and I guess I was romanticizing living off the earth, and I knew they had raised rabbits. . .

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  • Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. October 23, 2016 at 9:45 am

    Rebecca, thank you again for the choice of a wonderful poem and seminar. I look forward to Sunday and these special conversations with you. I especially appreciated the information that “as Picasso famously reminds us, art lies to tell a greater truth”.
    Pat

    Reply
  • Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. October 23, 2016 at 9:45 am

    Rebecca, thank you again for the choice of a wonderful poem and seminar. I look forward to Sunday and these special conversations with you. I especially appreciated the information that “as Picasso famously reminds us, art lies to tell a greater truth”.
    Pat

    Reply