Mrs. Woods sailed the long ship
of her '60s Cadillac down Trowbridge Avenue.
A little girl playing on that street
would wait for her to wave, then wave back.
Mrs. Wood’s wave was always the same:
church lady in a small town parade.
She kept her car window raised.
The girl liked her puffed helmet of white hair.
Did it feel like cotton candy?
Her parents talked to no one,
threw lunch bags with feces
from her training potty onto the lawns
of other neighbors they hated.
From next door Mrs. Woods had to have heard
the father’s fall-down fits, his hurling,
the mother pleading. But Mrs. Woods
never knocked on their door or
called the police. She was hard of hearing,
a most fortunate hardness.
In the car she lifted her hand: a noble Calla lily
gloved in gentility, a peace flag held up
to ward off the squalor that stewed
from the garden of waist-high weeds,
the peeling paint, the parked hearse
of the house, what couldn’t help but smell
of Stay away and Run for your life,
and that’s how the girl received her blessing.
When she imagines herself Anna Magnani
in a foreign film, it’s on a hound dog day
of vodka nips, two liquor store trips,
of running into the street to stop a car
from crushing a dying pigeon flailing
in the crosswalk, its one able wing.
It deserves a different death, she thinks,
as screeching tires underscore that thought.
She goes home a candle puddle of Roman pride
after the ransacking and no banquet,
after playing the peasant in happy face,
the congenial whore with iron thigh grip.
Tomorrow the old shoe will fail her
with another hard and public fall.
In the close-up, Anna throws her head back
to laugh as the camera comes in tightly
on her mouth, so wide a way in, you,
like the others who saw the movie, catch
a glimpse of her rumbling tongue
and guillotine of teeth, the glistening cavern
of her howling at adversity which distracts
from her brown eyes burning black.
M. Nasorri Pavone is a Pushcart Prize nominee whose poems have appeared in The Cortland Review, DMQ Review, New Letters, River Styx, and elsewhere. She is also a playwright and lives in Venice, California. contact