Anastasia Vassos

It Could Be Any Day, Say, January 11
after Haydn Carruth

When he says Miscanthus
is the state flower
of New Jersey
I think he’s kidding
until he tells me he remembers
Chinese Silver Grass scattered
over the Meadowlands back in the day.
Feathery heads
unfurled in winter’s weak sun
this Thursday morning walk—
I shiver in the wind
and this talk of childhood memories
reminds me
I am old.
I had been thinking about my mother.
What is it about remembering dementia?
How she lost her thought—
how I misplaced my phone
three times today.
My laptop invisible
under the pile of papers.
Why did I walk into this room?
My mind
this morning, back lit,
wind moving through—misplaced thoughts scattered.
My mother’s classically-constructed
mind so pristine once, so exact
before it fractured.
I’ve heard about the munitions explosion
during the siege of Athens—
the Venetian bomb nearly destroying
the Parthenon’s perfect curves.
When I was small she taught me
ancient Greek prayers I memorized
my brain an elastic band.
And now? I want to believe
I will not forget—that I don’t harbor
the spark that ignited her at the end.
What is it about Miscanthus?
Silver remnants surviving this harsh climate
white fruiting heads swaying
even in winter.
She had to let all that go, finally—
debris scattered at her feet.
She had no choice.



Made Manifest

Scorched Earth, you are so much hotter
than last July. I can barely stand
without flinching.
This spring, it’s been so hot
then turning so cold
that the forsythia refused
their gold before greening.
All that.
The light stays on into May, June
then lingers some more
lasts and lasts
just doesn’t stop.
Something under my skin
needs repair.
How can it be
I’m afraid of the dark
afraid to die
and yet this incessant light?
I couldn’t stand it in Sweden
midsummer, revelry lasting until 3
and still no dark.
I like to shut things down
put things away, the clothes, the day.
The hummingbird in the chest
that refuses to rest.
At night, at last, I can close my eyes, make my own dark,
where phosphenes twirl
where I feel hope. Trapping the night air.
Morning, I regard Boston’s toothy skyline
from the safety of my porch
the city’s grimacing smile
the day’s first sun pouring
as my thoughts erupt
from a murky chasm.
Ebb and flow, shudder and know.
I stand at the brink of my life
my hand cupped over my brow
as I regard an ocean’s distant harbor,
wind tossing through my skin.
I am not losing it, that sense
of where I’m going.
I’ve merely lost sight of it
temporarily. Every word I utter
has been used over and over.
If I repeat a word often enough
it loses
or maybe gains meaning:
last last last
and so on.
And so on.
When I was 13,
I wrote
the last leaf floated to the ground
like a feather.



Anastasia Vassos is the author of Nike Adjusting Her Sandal (Nixes Mate, 2021) and Nostos (Kelsay Books, 2023.) Nostos was named a finalist in Two Sylvias’ and Headlight Review’s Chapbook Contests. Her poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and Best New Poets. She speaks three languages, rides her bike, and lives in Boston.