Two Poems by Alyssa Lappen

The Arrival

That Sunday, a sharp sun exposed otherwise
unnotable, the Colts. They drew their footman

from his weekly rest, in crisp September air,
took their carriage downtown from an 89th Street

brownstone, to watch an afternoon's entertainment

foreigners, arriving from Ellis Island. The Colts,

gowned in ivory and gold, ladies' feathered hats
bobbing in the breeze, gentlemen caped, strolled

the lawn of Castle Garden, laughed into their gloves,
circled a ragged troop babbling in a hundred tongues,

who stepped off ragged boats, and fell to ground,
weeping in accents thick as knives, Amerika!

Blake Street Meets 33rd

Gary Binowski and Vivian Barrett live 35 years beyond my sight,
past hope of recovery, the boy bouncing heel-to-toe to school
down Blake Street, the other sulkily switching her broom
of waist-length auburn hair, explaining yet again why she's late.

And yet I revisit fifth grade, the class of Evelyn Maze,
who gave conviction
with penasked me to weave a tale
around the Frans Hals woman seated beside an apple barrel,
removed from the last century by canvas and still young before

our eyes. An oil becomes itself most when layers of paint still
bloom with original color. Teachers bind life to canvas of different
sort, air that's backdrop for thought, that shimmers until sparks
ignite and cling to minds like lint to wool and seas to sand.
I see Evelyn still in the oddly similar short and steely form
of Carmen Santiago, my son's middle-aged sprite, who mines
some special province for fairy dust, lifts kids to her height.
They think more of themselves because she said they could.


ALYSSA LAPPEN's work has been widely published in both print and online journals, including ForPoetry.   Her most recent publications have appeared in The Pedestal Magazine and Midstream.