Marcene Gandolfo
Marcene Gandolfo

In December

It was the day for origami,
the day I taught my daughter to fold
a perfect five-point star,

not cut nor tear nor paste
but feel each paper square
as a body, see its scars

and creases against our own,
fold corner-to-corner, fraction
upon fraction, fold flat then

open, unfurl a new
sum, unearth an answer
in the shell of it.

When we finished folding,
I couldn’t tell her it happened again.
I couldn’t say no baby

in May. I could only
carry the paper constellation
like shards of some

heavenly wreckage, to the tree,
luminous with silver bulbs and golden
angels. I could place stars

against the pine needles. I could
stand in the vertigo of flickering light.
Light that shattered through

our translucent stars. Light
that ricocheted to the wood-stained
manger, to the pallid faces

of three wise men,
who overlooked the porcelain infant
that lay so still.



The face that was tomorrow becomes today. It takes its shape: One day an ashen moon, the next, a beveled oval. In morning dust, see it congeal; see it outside your door in the porch light as you stoop to your newspaper. Why do you turn your head and close the door?

Once I saw a doll-faced girl. Porcelain skinned, apple-cheeked and voiceless as her mother threw her against the supermarket wall. And I, a child myself, watched the girl hold her face without flinch or tear as she fell to the ground. She lay silent as a stack of paper towels fell over her rigid body. Then a butcher with a bloodstained apron lifted the doll-girl to her feet. And everyone stood quiet as she ran out the door, to follow her mother.

Last night, I dreamed you reached for me in a room full of chiming clocks. I felt a veil of skin fall from my face. Then you were gone, and I was alone, only one clock striking in the corner. I walked to it. I saw my reflection in the glass of its face.

If you stare at anything long enough, you will see its face. See the profile in the door before you. See its features take shape in the grain.

The face that was tomorrow becomes today. One day a wing of fog, one day a button of dust. Why do you turn away? If I were wise, I would tell you to do what I can’t. If I were wise I would tell you to embrace it like a lover, taste the salt in its breath, and listen, even if its teeth gnash in your ear.