Lunch at mercado diez de agosto

At the market door, our hands clutch knobbly
parcels, our eyes assess streaming skies,
our umbrella is suddenly small.
We know, never lasts in Cuenca, but retract
heads inside the vast shell of mercado,
walk up the immobile escalator
to lunch stalls upstairs. Each tiny kitchen
with a table or two at rail’s edge,
market below. Birds fly in, out.
We settle on a stall, order almuerzo
are pointed to a table. Beautiful boys
in school uniforms spill off benches,
clean the table. Sons, grandsons
of the proprietor, after school
reserving seats and in seconds we have
arroz y pescado, golden fried whole fish,
rice, beans, and spoon spicy
sauce from the open bowl over all.
A Cuencan couple sits,
¡Buenos dias!” all around.
¿You like the fish?” the man asks.
¡Ah, si!”, discover tender white flesh,
pick bones. Sweet, and the tail a tasty
crunch. Spoons and shared knife. Server
busy elsewhere. Last bones bared, we
leave to make room, full, content.
The next sitters will know
dos tenedores, two forks, though Cuenca
seems to eat lunch with a spoon.
Our meal talisman against rain, we count
good fortune like shining pennies to be
in this place, skies now fair
without. And the charm that enfolds
that beast diez de agosto and all
its cellular creatures, extends beyond
mere carapace — until
unwitting feet trespass
some nebulous boundary, the outer frontier
to the realm of the undulant creature and
beyond all spell of luck or gold
comes the deluge.

 — Frances Huggard Migliaccio
(veinte y cinco de marzo, 2013)

When one and one, for Arlen

“Thee. And me,” you said,

near the beginning. You have

my heart fast to yours. Home is ours,

thing that was me now theeme

inextricable. Choice, will, no,

just is, we that must be. What I do,

of you is sum and sum is you to me.

You said also, “One and one equal three.”

I kenned not, but now we two ones

are theemewe, your word again. The be.

 — Frances Huggard Migliaccio

 — November 4, 2012


Arbor day grade by grade

school children file forth teachers in tow to

sit on the little brick wall at the school door, meet again

grandparents in the role of Block Island Gardeners.


And do the children taller since last year, changed

remember what Arbor Day is? Hands shoot up, eyes

squint in eastern sun. Some teachers towed

have approached this day in classrooms, explored

its roots, asked students benefits of trees.


Shade, food, furniture, places to climb, tennis

rackets, fishing poles, home to birds, list endless and children

keen in knowledge of trees. And the red maple from last year, how

did it do? Mulling, a glance at toes, so long

ago, Dad mowed, deer ate, or not quite sure,


and class by class, smiling gardeners take from their treasury

and hand to hand as students file back bestow

on every child a tree, and every teacher, and the principal, and superintendent, and still

there are abundant trees.


This year not tree but shrub, forsythia with stout roots

splaying wand-like branches. Unloved by deer, hardy.

A plant to wrap a fist around, a plant

everyone knows. And with each plant a stake, bright

orange to ward off mowers. “Way cool” from students, and

teachers counsel carrying sticks low, below

all eyes, and gardeners counsel

immediate planting, water.


And afterward still forsythia and wouldn’t you like, take one and

well I’d love one.

Easy hole to dig, easy bucket

of water to carry and the unforeseen forsythia

waves near its orange stake in grass

wound around by driveway. To welcome. And allowed

to be unpruned, a golden tree.


— Frances Huggard Migliaccio


For Valerie (The Good Child)

Heartbreaking your letter. Hard

to know your vibrant mother, keen

of legal and loving minds, is

lost inside her head, unfathomable. Hard

to picture her mail stashed in odd, strange places,

discovered in your eternity of mom’s

now vagueness, and how you found

my letter of last winter. Cold

knowledge of your sister’s thefts and drugs, your

borrowing brother’s feckless disappearance.

And you, good child, sole shelterer of mother’s

anxious, combative, sleepless self of three years

now. Glorious

to picture you free on your horse on a ride last Sunday

to honor your father, who died of diabetes. And you,

as you say, still vertical, you, marvelous

healer of animals, broken minds and families, you

have ended your letter with sympathy for me. You,

gifted, good child of all time,

with time for all.

— Fran Migliaccio

— 2012

Sea change

On the island always was a magick, fog

and second magick, sea. Both obscured

island from world, prevented

commerce to and fro betimes,

fog by quiet enwrapment,

sea by tumult of tempest,

two powers equal to bewilder.

A May Day fog, no one could wing

to, a traveler could not fly fro

so stayed, reluctant: cats awaited

while on unexpected May Day

on an island unanticipated were feasts,

dark brew, rare meats, lobster and tarragon

in one day of as many hours in dilation

as made a difference, made a rapt traveler

grow a smile that stayed through

lift of magick that freed

travelers to squeeze through weather

window to bone rattling earth

journeys to what awaited.

Whatever awaited.

But smile stayed.

And life changed.

— Frances Huggard Migliaccio



You entered, holding deep

red roses, velvet mysteries presented

with finesse: “Notice the language

of flowers. They’re not white.”

Not funeral, not wedding, not virgin.

An easy guest, an easy

way about the walk, the ready

smile. The laugh

infrequent, bright and deep, the eyes that missed

nothing. The withheld words.

An easy brush of hands, a deepening eye, and

nothing missed, but all held close and closed.

A shared taste for Laphroaig, smoky mystery

dispersed by water droplets, held in mystery.

A way to do, and a way not to do.

A corner chanced away from other guests, soft press

of lips, and soft again, and “Hold that thought.”

Agreed. And then the leaving.

Inherent in the leaving was the hold.

Hold awhile. Hold, consider. Hold that thought,

that mystery, abrupt, close-held, of hold.

— Frances Huggard Migliaccio