Nicole Caruso Garcia

The Autumn Thief

Two days till Halloween, yet like a prank,
a snowstorm snuffs the jack o' lantern's eyes.
Does Autumn laugh beneath her lacy mask,
or does true Winter knock without disguise?
No drugstore-bought confections can bewitch
as richly as this master confiseur.
She glitters cobwebs with her sugar-stitch
and truffles branches like a saboteur
until--lights out--they snap like pretzel sticks.
She silvers nightshade berries like dragées,
her mischief sweet, no telling treats from tricks.
Across the hush of stiff meringue, the glaze
of moonlight shines. And so, we hail the thief
whose sugar thickly frosts each flame-licked leaf.

What the Angel Saw

My earthly cousin often had received
him at her gate, a man of twenty, sworn
in their engagement. Likewise young, her warm
limbs tendered toward his hands, the only man
that she had ever sheltered there. Yet when
she woke on Holy Friday, knowing that
it was Your day of suffering, her voice
still velvety with sleep, she told him no.
I hovered there, forbidden to uproot
the twisted will of man, and saw him rape
her, Lord, with gentle violence, as if
he could possess the world of her, as if
her worth began and ended in that grove.

He soon dismounted so indifferently
she thought her protests made him change his mind.
She turned, her back a wall dammed up against
a ghost of trust. Her nakedness was marked
by neither scratch nor bruise, and yet I saw
the brambles tear her soul-flesh as she seeped
with knowledge that he had not stopped on her
account, but only after he had filled
her with his insult. Lord, I held her and
with unguent traced the constellations of
her wounds. She lay there garlanded in grief,
tongue dumb to speak the curdling word, yet said,
It doesn't mean you have the right. He claimed,

If I am not entitled, then who is?
She curved toward window-light, faint though it was,
and like a sunflower she hung her head.
I said, Fear not, you are a child of God,
though she lay stillborn in my arms. She hushed,
as if no nails had pierced her through, yet by
those wounds You drew her closer, proof she found
unbearable and yet miraculous.
She prayed: How dare I ask the crucified
for help? . . . Still I believe in You and pull
the sheet around my ribs, as if I could
conceal the truth and not offend Your eyes. . .
and yet, I need for You to see me, God.

The third day came. She sang in Easter mass
and pinched her hand with crescents. Lord, I saw
the weeks she stayed, her fury when his priest
declared it was not rape. Yet still she kept
her vow, one night unhinged her knees in full
forgiveness. Yet, when she recalled the times
that he had palmed her belly, naming their
imaginary children, then she knew
that she must bury love, must lay no child
within the splintered cradle of his arms.
As summer idled, she said please and thank
you, smiled for photographs, yet every cross
renewed her Golgotha, from steeples to

the scarecrows crucified in fields. Now fall,
she seeks distraction at a party, fades
within a crowd. He does not see her. When
she sees him laugh as though no sacred thing
were ever lost, she hastens home, resolved
to bleed herself as white as apple flesh.
I chase her disappearing breath, and though
she sinks to hush her lips against the floor,
her voice transcends the deadbolt of despair.
Convulsed with keening, primal prayer, she rakes
the carpet, begs, Send angels. Cries drown out
the neighbors' timid knocks where they begin
to gather at the threshold. Lord, her mind

delights to cut red ribbons at her wrists,
to harvest grief and have me lay her at
Your feet. The blade at rest within her desk
is startling comfort, often palmed and clicked
out quarter inch by quarter inch. She writes
no note, abandons words as impotent
apostles. Bless her suffering, that one
day she might voice her testament. She strains
to rise and gather into her best dress,
yet here I root her to the floor and clothe
her in a gift of armor. Lord, restore
the orchard of her heart, a warrior
whose blossoming begins with her defeat.


Nicole Caruso Garcia was born in New Jersey in 1972. She earned her B.A. in English from Fairfield University, and after seven years in corporate industry, she left to earn her M.S. in Education from the University of Bridgeport. Her poetry has appeared in literary journals such as Willow Review, The Sow's Ear Poetry Review, Soundings East, The Ledge, Poetry Midwest, and Small Pond Magazine of Literature, and she received the Spring 2010 Willow Review Award. She and her husband live in Connecticut, where she teaches literature and creative writing at Trumbull High School. Earlier work in Mezzo Cammin: 2011.1, 2008.1.


Maryann Corbett
Nausheen Eusuf
Anna M. Evans
Rebecca Foust
Nicole Caruso Garcia
Karen Kelsay
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> Poet Terri Witek and visual artist Jo Yarrington appear in Evolve the Conversation.

> Mezzo Cammin to sponsor
scholarship at the West Chester Poetry Conference.
Holly Trostle Brigham: My paintings are rich with symbolism. I include flowers, butterflies, and other things from nature that communicate messages about the subject. These elements are interconnected with biographical references to tell a larger story about the sitter's life or place in history.
32 Poems
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