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C.N.P Poetry 

  • Writer's pictureCathexis Northwest Press

Unrequited Easter; Water, Fire, Water; Interment

By: Caroline Rowe

Unrequited Easter

She knew it wasn’t going to come,

like the package or the angel,

the iced hibiscus tea the waitress forgot,

the reply from the guy who taught her

how to whistle real loud in the asylum.

It would not come

from that white time-out.

She only remembered who saw

what tears fall.

She’d charted its migrations,

carved out its lines on the Coltrane album

like gunpowder fuses,

tattooed ellipsoids on her fingers in Greece.

She’d collected the materials: sewing box,

swapped paperbacks, razor-burn cream, rosewater,

a chicken in the freezer, friends.

Meanwhile, our red letter days marching

off the summit of some Calvary.

Our red letter days candied

with lipstick and breakfast,

each blood-jeweled match tip burned away.

By the morning when they read

her girlhood Easter prayer,

she steeped in the rained on grasses.

She was closed in her white dress.

She was closed in the regal crypt.

In her own time or out,

out of her own loop, she knew

the hoax of peace, the flaws

of her Good Old Boy father

who’d punched a hole in the shrink’s wall,

who’d now spend his fortune on lacquered

benches and plaques in her honor. She knew

who he was. She’d been holding out for his Jesus,

who rose from the dead only to leave us

again. She waited, waded out,

a sigh in the stifle,

while the sun backed off

into another dark corner

and what skies or waves were left for her

grew warmer,

she knew.

Water, Fire, Water

Water, fire, water.

Sun in your moon.

I questioned the stars

whom you’d first deemed

liars. Your birth chart

confided, fixed:

Water, fire, water.

Scorpio’s ice,

solar flare, sweat thaw.

I’m a loose clod

or clay to lather,

Earth, water, earth,

a rock you lifted.

I’m still looking

down on that ground where

you first turned me

over, where all

creation oozes,

where Jehovah’s

tawny belly folds

into itself.

You rant like the Book,

a mad father,

powerful geyser

from the boulder,

primordial well.

The horses go

down on you, flatten

your magnitude,

Serpents are drunk on

the afterbirth

of ducklings. Under

your boots, music

of leaves crushed alive.

Each stalk and vine

crammed into frame. I

splay blasphemous,

raise your hair like grass.

Water, shyly

joining itself. Fire

doused, extinguished.

We, Apocryphal

lovers hidden

in the underbrush,

where it’s so lush

and fertile, but you

want to get lost

in the dead desert

with just my heart,

the sun’s claws shredding

the manna off

your back like lint, snow.

Earth, water, earth.

Water, fire, water.

Boil over. Steam.

The sniper stars sow

their sabotage.


That crystal of inertia,

when the pills kicked in again.

Umbrella overhead,

bleeding violin:

oh the sadism,

the stretch.

She was dead,

and we hovered.

I felt the rain on the back of my neck,

but it may have been sweat,

or my prolific, sticky tears.

I felt wet

in the nape of my neck,

then I didn’t feel a damn thing,

not for many years.


Caroline Rowe (née Zimmer) is a Pushcart Prize nominated poet and lifelong resident of the French Quarter in New Orleans. Her work has appeared in various publications, including Adanna, Seems, The Raw Art Review, and The Jabberwock Review, where she was named a finalist for the Nancy D. Hargrove Editor's Prize. Her debut chapbook, God's Favorite Redhead, is forthcoming from Lucky Bean Press.

About my poetry, maybe my own, ever-encouraging mother said it best:

“I never fully comprehend it at the start. I just let the lines soak in, appreciate the words, the way they sound. Then, there’s a turning point where it all becomes clear. By the end, I understand each image has significance, personal and emotional. Nothing is accidental. Then, I know I’ll have to read the poem again, and it will have double the impact.”

I received this very sweet text message from my mother, after sending her “Unrequited Easter,” “Interment,” and “Water, Fire, Water.” Immediately following, in a fit of trademark self-deprecation, she lamented her lack of eloquence on the subject. She, like so many, persists in feeling like an inadequate reader of poetry. No, Mom. You do get it. Now that that’s officially on the record, here is some background on the aforementioned poems.

“Unrequited Easter” and “Interment” both focus on the death of Kendall Michelle Daigle, who passed away of a heroin overdose one week shy of her twentieth birthday.

Her posthumous collection of writings can be found on

“Interment” briefly divulges a few details about her burial, grounded in my own perspective. In “Unrequited Easter,” the “it” is intentionally manifold, but refers, most literally, to the Easter that Kendall did not live to see and to the tranquil, fulfilling life she believed she would never have access to.

“Water, Fire, Water” is an exploration of elemental angst. In this poem, I have employed a strict syllabic count of 5-4-5 (“fire,” with my ever so slight Southern accent, being pronounced monosyllabically). Alchemical, astrological and Biblical imagery, combined with the rhythmic syllabic structure, aims to create a moody, incantatory air of eroticism.


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