C. E. Giaimo


Leaving Tennessee. Saved a caterpillar
from drowning as a good deed,
watched it waddle off and smiled.
Stopped at one of those roadside stands
selling hot dogs and ice cream,
sat down with a soda to breathe.

Found your name scathed into my picnic
table; your name but not you,
just a familiar grouping of letters. Lines
flailed across the wood. I could never tolerate
the kind who etch, mark, brand (walls, cattle,
lovers into trees). Vandals. I told you that once.

Flash back: three years ago; August. Trees corroded
by gypsy moths, leaves morphed into eyes with vacant
pupils, branches hung with burlap sacks and you
saying, all it takes is one [sic] they mate so quickly.
That caterpillar. The recovery of one life
the loss of so many others. What have I done.

I run my fingers over this name, think maybe
it is you, maybe these letters
and this year are your own, here
amongst soon-to-be torn and eaten
leaves somewhere by the edge of
Tennessee slash Carolina.

Maybe your photographic mind contemplated
the negative space between these
umbrellas, maybe you inhabited
this same vacant air--breathed it in,
churned it about and left--
but not without stabbing your knife into wood.

C. E. Giaimo studied English and creative writing at Princeton University and has also studied for a master's degree in England. She is currently working in New York.

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