Captain Lovell, ["My eyes are shaky and glimmer like the stars"]

By Gabrielle Calvocoressi Gabrielle Calvocoressi
My eyes are shaky and glimmer like the stars.
My head turns to the left and it moves
just like a pendulum. The kids laugh and shake
it back to me, all the ways I’m stupid,
not like them. But I know how the grass sounds
when the locusts come, like a spaceship
taking off and how it makes the air shake.

Captain Lovell, I heard it in the branches
and the leaves. I heard the rocket leaving.
My teacher said it wasn’t so, that you’re
past hearing but my father said I could.
He puts his hands hard on my shoulders
from behind and holds my head still
with his looking. But I can feel how much

I want to shake and let myself go loose
and double like a cloud of mayflies on the lake,
you know just how they rise so you couldn’t
see just one of them, not even with your thumb
held up to catch one with your eyes. It’s something
I can’t do that Babe and David can, can’t sight
the stars or use a telescope or ever fire a gun.

Dr. Lovell, I like to think you’re spinning
and can’t feel it like I can’t feel the world shake
unless I’m really tired and then it’s like a gift
to let it go and just stop trying so hard. I like
to think you let go too and when the kids
run at me and move their heads from left
to right and call me “Zigzag” I look up

and wish myself up there with you
just calm and swinging through the stars.

Source: Poetry (April 2014).


This poem originally appeared in the April 2014 issue of Poetry magazine

April 2014


Gabrielle Calvocoressi is the author of Apocalyptic Swing (2009) and The Last Time I Saw Amelia Earhart (2005), both from Persea Books. She is the senior poetry editor at Los Angeles Review of Books and teaches at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Coming of Age, Youth, Activities, Travels & Journeys, Nature, Stars, Planets, Heavens

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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