ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Ruth Bavetta

I Am a Galaxy of One 

I am a collection of two
hundred and six bones, thirty-two
trillion cells and eighty-two years.
If each of those cells has been
regenerated every seven years,
I have been 11.7 different people. 
One wandered among orange trees,
drinking blossoms. Another
crushed the leaves of the pepper
tree as it wept over the path
and held them to her nose.
One was a Phi Beta Kappa,
another diapered and washed
and drove to the market. One
made detailed drawings
of trilobites and foraminifera.
One taught students to see, another
didn't know what she wanted.
One cried under an orange tree,
another sang along with the radio.
One learned to play the blues
on a used Martin guitar.
One fell in love for the last time.



What I can say—
Hello. Goodbye.
Where are you?
Why aren't you coming?
Shall we go to bed?
I love you.

Someday English will stick
in the tangles and angles
of his brain. Someday,
he may speak only Norwegian,

may think he's still at Kirkeveien 100,
has never left for America,
has never married me. A continent
and an ocean will separate us
even as I hold his hand, listening.


A Little Night Music

I'm dreaming of the house that burned.
Sun slants through blackened rafters,
the kitchen tap drips.

Books are charred nubs
records, ruffled discs.
But outside, the hills

have turned again to green,
the backyard pool sparkles
clear as gin.

I try a little Mozart on the piano,
the twisted soundboard tinkles
like a nickelodeon gone sour.

Thirty years and thirty miles away,
I still dream this music,
this house, this family,

still look for what was lost,
still try to coax a melody
from a charred piano.


Ruth Bavetta's poems have appeared in Rattle, North American Review, Nimrod, Rhino, Slant, Tar River Review, Atlanta Review and many others, and are included in several anthologies. Her books include Flour, Water, Salt and Fugitive Pigments, (FutureCycle), Embers on the Stairs (Moon Tide), and No Longer at This Address (Aldrich). She loves the light of November afternoons, the music of Stravinsky and the smell of the ocean. She hates pretense, fundamentalism and sauerkraut.

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