Laurie Soriano
    In a review entitled “Words Where We Cannot Find Them,” Grady Harp has written:

    “Some poets search for a niche where they are comfortable in sharing with the reader the secrets that have become part of their world perspective—an emotional landscape that further defines regions of our minds that have been hazy or too full of fear or pain to see clearly. Laurie Soriano takes our hand and in the process our heart and invites us to accompany her on re-creations of moments that feel like balm, like a friend who is willing to admit she has been through life experiences as delicate or fragile as ours and in doing so allows us to cope with memories or ideas or concepts whose doors we have electively locked from consciousness. She is a wordsmith as fine as any writing today and entering the pages of this radiant collection of poems changes us—whether we wish it or not.”


Betty’s Dive

I.
Later you remember. There was no rock
in the water, and the dive was perfect.

II.
Her laughing swells in huge concentrics as the others laugh.
She is a strong woman leading. Think of
shoulders twisting through a swimming stroke
while others follow floundering. Think of
splash fights in the water, and her cascades.
Of her scrambling up the cliff that banks
the river, snorting wit to all the dares,
shrugging off the mild warnings. Think of
(others having done exultant cannonballs)
a dive like none, those muscles twisting
as she twists her body through a flip. Think of
laughing when she does her dead man’s float.
And then: c’mon Betty.



Hands of Women

I.

Let my body move you down into her hands in latex gloves
helping you work your way out after you’ve crowned,
now a sharp shoulder, now your slippery midsection, and then
the rest of you in a wet glad swoosh.

They are doctor hands veined with science but woman soft
and those firm hands will catch you, she’ll hold
you to her ribs as the cord is addressed and then lift you up
and swing you to my chest, and then I have you,

Hello baby, hello you baby girl, and you peer at me,
squinting, and we share a silent joke (me through tears),
before I tuck you to my breast, and you
competently do what is needed

as I feel her hands below, delivering the afterbirth,
then tending to my birth wounds before
she pulls the gloves off with a snap, then
jots statistics on a board.

II.

I offer my sad cracked back to her.
First her hands only listen, persuade my body
to tell where it’s crying, and then with her steel muscles
she orders it to breathe

as the candles flicker, and in this dim room
a voice chants Ashanti Ashanti, and my face
is being ground down into the cradle
as my back unclenches, and sighs.

Sometimes we talk, as she kneads a shoulder, a calf,
my face directed anonymously toward the floor, voice raspy
as with no one but a lover, skin warm
and wanton, hair a wild mop. She delivers me

back to the world all slippery and smiling
and I float home, where I find your teenaged self
reading curled up on the couch, and I slide next
to you and take your hand lightly in mine.


Roller Coaster


So sorry for all the times I refused your hand,
that pushy life of the party hand that wanted
to guide a daughter across the dance floor.

Kansas in August, our faces clammy with old sweat.
Standing in line for the Mamba, I surveyed the crowd,
everyone younger than you by twenty years,

as you chatted sociably with everyone
and me, my friend at last, even as your rotting breath
foretold next April’s joke upon us.

The slow clicking climb shifting to the cruel drop,
and you laughed “holy shit!” (just as when I clutched
your arm and the organ started thundering my wedding march).

You turned to check on me, and you took the long curves
with gritted teeth, silent and steady, ready to grab
my hand if I needed it.

Bless you for daring me to ride the Mamba,

and for my screaming like a child, echoing
my joy and fear all over Kansas.

Forgive me, father, that I only held your hand
when the I.V. ran through it
and your life rewound behind your eyes.


Looking Back


If we leave the windows open,
we can hear the sound of the Pacific
crashing every night. In the summers,
we are serenaded by sea lions—
a song of lust and dominion
ringing out among the dim rocks.

We have come to a screeching halt
at the edge of the continent,
like cartoon characters clinging
to the edge of a cliff with bare feet.
We ache for shuttling further, for
the oblivion of the new.

A trail of tears leads back across
the land to the vigorous Atlantic,
a trail we need to follow to make
our peace at gravesites, to celebrate
the anguished earth, to piece back together
with tender hands all that we have broken.


2012 Laurie Soriano
Laurie Soriano was a Featured Poet who read her poetry at the January 2012 Second Sunday Poetry Series