Two Poles and a Suicide
(in memoriam Reetika Vazirani)
By Leslie McGrath

Look how her dark eyes smile
black as her last night, though
the photo is curled, yellow.
A chip. A chip to shoulder.

She was sorceress, sorely loved,
linger of mint, a plea left
on too many answering machines
when there were answering machines.
Everything is smaller now.

She was, she said, slave
to a slave to fame, a lover
of white elephants, black
pearls. Nomad in a fatherless
land, she traveled from
pole to pole until
left at the altar of exhaustion,
a dendritic tripwire
strung from attic to basement,
she died in the dining room
and she had company.

A tour guide, she was,
not to the hell of her own
despair, blithe & capricious,
but to the imagined hell
even mention of her name
now takes us to. We are not
to be blamed for going there.
We are not to be blamed
for going there.

Leslie McGrath’s poems have been widely published, most recently in Salamander, Slate, Long Poem magazine (UK) and PANK. Her literary interviews have been published in the Writer’s Chronicle and broadcast on public radio. Her first collection of poetry, Opulent Hunger, Opulent Rage, was a finalist for the CT Book Award. She edited, with Ravi Shankar, Reetika Vazirani’s posthumous poetry collection, Radha Says. McGrath teaches creative writing and literature part time at Central CT State University and serves on the board of the James Merrill House in Stonington, CT.