Though It Is Summer We Cover You in Overcoats
Grace to be born, born and live as variously as possible
(on the gravestone of Frank O’Hara)
To love something beautiful should be enough. Should be. Exquisite are your vague blue eyes caught in the delicate summer light of Cherry Grove, heat pounding itself down to the shallows. Frank, it is July of your 40th year. You were born in a decade of secret clubs hushed by laws, but who doesn’t adore you as you arrive on Fire Island, all that shot glass love in the same sun as that beautiful man smoking Luckys on a chaise. In a landscape of no trees, where the wind blows the grass back hard, the sea-front calls and you ramble from our cottage toward the dunes, sand traffic ahead and in a hurry. It was only hours ago that you’d tonic your drink with good friends. When we heard that you’d been struck by a jeep, we all ran toward the horde of mostly summer tourists gathered where you lay, still and pale, your eyes, cloudy— sharded glass in the sun and blood in the sand—. We knew nothing about shock, the internal blood that mixes with bile, the bile, the bleeding, but we knew to keep you warm. You mislaid in the glint of a large orange sun, the last of you, last of the bagatelles, of the museum now emptying its oils and exhibits. Last of your close calls. Though it is summer, we cover you in overcoats. We depart bewildered, head to the hospital, and you, unbodied, still fetching in a blue crew neck. A silver bracelet with a broken catch at your wrist.
Carine Topal earned her Master’s Degree from New York University. She has lived and worked in Jerusalem, Israel, and in Heidelberg, Germany. For more than 20 years Topal has worked with severely emotionally disturbed children and anthologized the poetry of these children. She participated in the grassroots organization, California Poets in the Schools, was the Poet-in-Residence and the Poet-in-Education for Manhattan Beach elementary schools. Her work has appeared in numerous journals throughout the U.S. and Canada. Twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Topal was awarded a residency at Hedgebrook, in Washington, as well as a fellowship in St. Petersburg, Russia. She is the recipient of numerous poetry awards, including the Robert G. Cohn Prose Poetry Award, The Briar Cliff Annual Poetry Award, and the Palettes and Quills Chapbook Contest, for “Tattooed,” poetry in the voices of the perpetrators, the victims, and the survivors at Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Topal received the Excellence in Arts award from the city of Torrance, California, as well as a certificate of recognition for the promotion of literary arts, presented by the State of California. Carine’s 5th collection, “In Order of Disappearance,” was published by the Pacific Coast Poetry Series in 2018. Topal lives by the sea and near the mountains and teaches poetry and memoir in the LA and Palm Springs areas.
Art: Molly Dunham