Cathexis Northwest Press
Cadenza in the Key of G; Ride or Die
By: Angela Gaito-Lagnese
Cadenza in the Key of G
Huntington Beach, years since I called California home,
just ahead of losing myself again, we stay extra days in a beachside room,
artsy and small — an old lover, a new hotel, nothing the way I remember.
We await news from the hospital, share ice cream, tell Gary-stories, pre-
pancreatic. All this, mere days before the earth rattles and shakes.
My last night here, I walk the pier as the sun starts its slow metallic dive
its final embers framing the boy with violin into a portrait.
I lean against weathered wood, one more silhouette amidst strangers.
The boy’s strings vibrating in a smooth and practiced arc
beneath kites and souvenir balloons in darkening moons of blues and reds.
As if on cue, a girl of maybe three or four, spins out from the crowd
into open sound, her hair a spray of sepia curls. She dances
in improvised pirouettes, a squall of spirals.
Nearby, a voice whispers bonita.
The waves beneath the pier crash and grind against the shoreline.
The music swells, the bow whips the strings,
pitches and stings in fevered revelry, a deep discordant ache.
There is no time to explain how I will leave again.
I’m leaving. This one moment, if this is all there is,
will have to be enough. A memory to caress later,
a tune to hum without thinking.
Ride or Die
Come with me, Hail Mary,
Run quick see
what do we have here
Girl packs her trunk, suitcases, boxes,
backseat layered in blankets, pillows, the cat, the dog;
glovebox stuffed papers, letters, a knife, flashlight, burned CDs—
Girl turns in her rental keys, tells boy to come if he wants,
but this is ride-or-die, get-out-of-town, no-turning-back,
whatever-boy-decides-is-fine. This is no vacation.
This break will be clean.
Boy folds himself into passenger seat, emaciated, wasted.
Girl drives. Pennsylvania Illinois Missouri
no stories, no grace, they race through great wide swaths of spoiled grain in Kansas
yellow fires against the horizon smoke plumes in tornado shapes.
Into New Mexico the mountains contort into limbs of dried clay
wild bruises of purple, sun-rusted reds. Girl drives past the great meteor exhibit,
wounded hole of earth that was left, the dinosaur relics, the petrified forest.
Boy is petrified already. Girl plows gas to metal through Arizona .
they rest near the Grand Canyon half bare pines, bland soil
about as close as they get when he really gets sick;
Rolling Stones kick from the radio to keep his mind out of his intestines.
I know I’ve dreamed you a sin and a lie…
wild horses couldn’t drag me away
The Mohave during a windstorm tires all over the road
girl clutches at the steering wheel pale stubs of bone from her fist
Two thousand six hundred miles past Redondo and Torrance
south on the 110, ramp to PCH, boy flails into seizure
girl prays to nameless god that boy lives
ambulance wails, takes him—
Girl smells freeway exhaust, jasmine, ocean
hears the heady bass from a passing car;
completely alone in a brand-new city,
she breathes in deeply to keep from screaming,
imagines many possible endings
La da da da da la la la
Angela Gaito-Lagnese holds an M.F.A. in fiction and an Ed.D. in Language, Literacy & Culture from the University of Pittsburgh. Her work has appeared in The Pittsburgh City Paper: Chapter and Verse, The Main Street Rag, and Nasty Women and Bad Hombres: A Poetry Anthology. Angela has lived in San Pedro, California and presently lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where she is an Associate Professor of English at the Community College of Allegheny County.