Tanya Grae

Rizzo’s Song
          There are worse things I could do—

I sang full voice in my girl pink room,
driving my mother crazy & wore out
the vinyl, the irony, the foreshadowing
of teenage as mezzo like Stockard Channing,
my own range. I played on the down low
til you, how I hated you at first, not realizing

our high school operetta no different—
reading Romeo & Juliet & watching Zeffirelli,
me sneaking out my window to catch midnight
movies at AMC & Rocky Horror in the Grove,
the canon of John Hughes, us skipping school
at Crandon & coming home tan & catching hell

& fire & holding hands at Dadeland & Bayside
& The Falls & hallways & all the notes & cards
& bears & you teaching me how to drive stick
in your dad’s old Karmann Ghia & kissing slow
& playing games & the way you cried laughing
at something I’d say & the sex at Alice Wainwright,

even Vizcaya & the Renaissance. The splendor—
no one else understood our moon phases & tides
like pregnant, then not & the hospital & my parents
& your parents & you at boot camp & long-distance
engaged & that pool party & the rape of that call
& breaking up & other boys & me being so aloof

& never getting back to that place when we could
just lie together spooned in your room. Why
could I never say the truth? That half bottle
of Percocet & wine coolers to fly my Malibu
upside down through a tomato field. I can feel—
& I can cry. A fact I bet you never knew—

that first kiss at Ocean Reef on your birthday,
or sitting in chemistry, thinking I didn’t see you
in the bleachers while I cheered, or in a crowd,
or that first time underneath the water tower,
the dew already rising, the dog star on the hem
of night’s skirt pulled down for morning.



          Marc Chagall, La Promenade, 1918. Oil on canvas.

                                                                                                                 Open her hidden hand.
                                                                                                    On the hillside above Vitebsk,
                                                                                               above the blanket set with wine,
                                                                                          that is, by design, a world set apart,
                                                                                          her eyes fold his best clothes aside.
                                                                                    Her violet dress lighter from his touch,
                                                                                  she looks back at his wide-happy smile
                                                                              before the quilted landscape. Their hands
                                                                               hold to wrists like doves as the wind lifts,
                                                                        wind that pulls as a muse: More time, more—
                                                                        against the rumpled down of clouds: Let go—
Her eyes beg gravity, for her skin with his, her body
upon the grass. In midair, she turns—a volta
against the birdless sky. Chagall stands outside
this vignette with Bella, his ecstasy intact,
his bird in hand & blurs the air to heighten
the fore through a waltz of refraction—
the unhappy town steps back quietly,
& happiness is the day, is the theme,
as if given dominion, reign. His
outstretched hand paints her
forever from flying away.


Tanya Grae is the author of the forthcoming collection UNDOLL (YesYes Books), a National Poetry Series finalist. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in AGNI, Ploughshares, New Ohio Review, Prairie Schooner, Post Road, The Los Angeles Review, The Massachusetts Review, and elsewhere. Grae teaches at Florida State University while finishing her PhD in creative writing. Find out more at: tanyagrae.com