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Poem for the Family
Susan Cataldo


Before I went to sleep, the soft lamplights
from the tenements across the street,
still, in the night, resembled peace.
There is something I forgot to be grateful
for. But I’m not uneasy. This poem
is enough gratitude for the day. That leaf
tapping against the window, enough
music for the night. My love’s even
breathing, a lullaby for me.
Gentle is the sun’s touch
as it brushes the earth’s revolutions.
Fragrant is the moon in February’s
sky. Stars look down & witness,
never judge. The City moves
beneath me, out of sight.
O let this poem be a planet
or a haven. Heaven for a poet
homeward bound. Rest my son’s head
upon sweet dreams & contentment.
Let me turn out the light to rest.

From drenched: selected poems of Susan Cataldo 1979-1999 (Telephone Book, 2003).
Used with the permission of the author’s husband, Stephen Spicehandler.


Susan Cataldo (1952 - 2001) was born in the Bronx, New York City, and died there of cancer, having spent most of her intervening adult years living in Manhattan's East Village. In the late seventies she began her close involvement with the Poetry Project at St. Mark’ s Church-in-the-Bowery where she first participated in workshops and later taught. Besides her three books of poems published by Telephone Books (Brooklyn-Queens Day, The Mother Journal and drenched), her poems have appeared in numerous poetry publications as well as in the anthologies Out of This World (edited by Anne Waldman) and Good Poems for Hard Times (edited by Garrison Keillor).





Post New Comment:
Ginny C.:
This is a subtle and beautiful poem. I am thankful to have had the opportunity to experience it.
Posted 02/08/2011 04:39 PM
Joan L. Cannon:
Like a voice from the past! The first 18 years of my life I lived next door to St. Marks-in-the-Bowery. By the time it had become a venue for young writers, I was long gone from there. The poem itself is wonderful, its associations for me make it even better. Now that I'm writing poetry, it raised a new melancholy.
Posted 02/08/2011 10:38 AM
Please bring us more of her poems. Such a gift she was.
Posted 02/08/2011 10:28 AM
What a beautiful poem that she wrote anticipating her peaceful passing.
Posted 02/08/2011 10:08 AM
Carol Hauer:
Just beautiful. So wonderful that she was able to see miracles in the commonplace and be grateful for them. Many us us never reach the point where we have become that peaceful and that perceptive. Thank you for giving us her eyes and thoughts today.
Posted 02/08/2011 08:31 AM
what a tragic loss, and yet what beautiful gifts to leave behind...
Posted 02/08/2011 08:13 AM

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