Squirrel Hill

“Time is like a series of liquid transparencies. You don’t look back along time, but through it like water.”
      — Margaret Atwood
Eyes of the author.

Joanne Samraney

PHOTO: Joanne Samraney

Joanne Matone Samraney has published two poetry chapbooks, Grounded Angels, which won the 2001 Acorn-Rukeyser Award, and Remaking Driftwood(Finishing Line, 2010), a finalist in the 2010 Finishing Line chapbook contest. She is co-author of Breaking Bread with the Boscos, a collection of family memoirs and recipes. She has published poems in many literary magazines and journals, including The Panhandler, Main Street Rag, Verve, and Voices in Italian Americana. She was a finalist in both the Panhandler and Perivale poetry chapbook contests, received an honorable mention in the Betty Gabelhart Poetry Prize contest, and was first runner-up in Volume V of the Loyalhanna Review. She has read her work on WYEP's Prosody, served on the International Poetry Forum's Board of Associates, and was part of Tea Time Ladies, a poetry performance group. Her full-length poetry book, Split, was published in 2018.


When I wheel her into the garden
I leave her door open just a bit,
afraid I might lock us out and she
might become the wild lion
I imagine she was in another life.
I expect whiskers to sprout
from the creases around her mouth,
her gray hair to become
a full yellow mane.

Yes, she must have been a lion,
not this old woman with eyes that seem
to disintegrate before my own,
not this old woman who doesn’t
recognize her brothers or sisters
or who I am to her.
She asks for her husband
dead thirty years,
says he is never hungry.

I tell her the garden is filled
with buttercups, ask if she would like
me to pick a few. They are yellow
I say. What is your favorite color?
Yellow, she says and I want
to dress her in yellow, happy as the sun.
happy as the woman who carried
a wooden table from the basement
to her kitchen for Sunday dinners.

First appeared in Steam Ticket.

October In Pittsburgh

I saw her again
today on Second Avenue.
Arms folded around her torn blue jeans
head drooping in her lap,
two strands of brown hair
falling across her young face.
I thought of my granddaughters,
my daughter. No need
for more.

silence has its own language.
It says, pick her up. Ask
her name. Take her home.
Feed her lunch, then
brush her hair.

Deafened by the constant rumble
of wheels spiraling in my mind,
I continue driving, amazed
by an occasional young Maple
its faded red leaves still clinging
before the final shuffle, the silent
crash against an apathetic sidewalk.

First appeared in The Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

Remaking Driftwood

In my next life
let me come back a box.

I will lie waiting under the Mediterranean.
A sudden wave will wash me ashore.

Some young boy who looks like our son
will find me and bring me home

to his shed where he will carefully
unwrap carving tools and begin to remake

me into a wooden box, small
but big enough to hold the colored

fragments of your body, copper
like your skin, beige like your eyes,

pieces of scattered shells that refuse
to leave after a stormy life.

This time I promise to hold
you safe inside me

to treasure the sanctity
of what remains.

Title Poem in Remaking Driftwood, published in 2010 by Finishing Line Press