The Art of Crying
By: Sandee Gertz
Postignano, Italy, 2017
In Rome, the Italians make kissing look like high art,
But I say crying is art too — the gravel path
into the Umbrian hills a long prayer
as I heave breaths against lavender.
In dry heat, Mary clutches her heart
in a driveway shrine.
Her candles stay lit beneath a cobalt wind.
Who does she mourn? What saints protect us
in the corners of castle rooms where light does not travel?
In Sellano, the sign tells me to pay attention;
a man kneels in a field to poppies and vines,
the oils of harvest drip from a basket.
Who catches his tears?
At the airport, a woman in short, red silk
runs to kiss a returning lover’s tattoo,
then grabs for his lips.
When I watched, I didn’t cry like I did the day the Italian couple
invaded the Church Street liquor store
in Downtown Nashville, their public dance into the display
cases of Cashmere at the center of the store.
I have learned which arts are mine,
and which green leaves of the trail should not stain my skin.
At dinner, I sit across from a man with thick, American hair
and know I cannot be loved.
That it is better to hold the shadowy gaze of a lynx in winter
or the portents of three full vultures staring from a stone wall.
In Thailand, one quart of paint covers a house
in an afternoon. Villagers, brown with boredom,
connect drops of Cerulean blue that spill against want.
Sometimes it is enough to kiss the yellow silk of lumen bushes
in Postignano, or to know the olives we press
our fingers into are picked under light of the fourth full moon.
Who could say it is not a gift to cry?
When silver is found in subterranean caves only when wet.
Sandee Gertz is the author of The Pattern Maker's Daughter (Bottom Dog Press 2012) and a Western Pennsylvania native now living in Nashville, Tennessee. Her poetry has appeared in Poet Lore, Gargoyle, The Ledge, Green Mountains Review, The Pittsburgh Quarterly, and more. The Write Launch has recently featured her memoir writing. She has been noted as one of 16 Working Class Poets featured in World Literature Today. Sandee has completed a memoir and is working on a novel. She teaches at Cumberland University and has a M.F.A. from Wilkes University.