Skip to Content


By Grace Cavalieri

Maybe she had dementia,
the old lady in the woolen hat,
I don't know, but she
stopped short in the middle of the aisle,
when her son shouted, PUT THAT BACK.
Clutching a small bag of chips -
like a newborn against her chest,
like a prayer,
like something she owned -
her face collapsed,
Please, but no sound came except,
This was Christmas Eve, not that it matters;
Why even embellish a story like that.
I can only tell you I walked behind her
as she walked behind her son,
until I could no longer watch,
yet there was something about
her lopsided hat, her lowered head
that made me sure
no matter what happened next,
she would not put it back.

Added: Monday, June 30, 2014  /  Used with permission.
Grace Cavalieri

Grace Cavalieri's newest book is WITH (Somondoco Press 2016). She's the author of several books and produced plays. The most recent play, "Anna Nicole: Blonde Glory." (Theatre for the New City, NYC 2012). She celebrates 39 years on public radio with "The Poet and The Poem" now recorded at The Library of Congress. Grace's career includes positions as a co-founder of WPFW-FM; after that, Assoc. Director for Children's Programming, PBS; and then a Senior Media Program Officer, NEH. She's the founder of two poetry presses in DC, still thriving, and is presently the poetry columnist for The Washington Independent Review of Books. Grace Cavalieri was awarded the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award from WASH INDEP REVIEW. She received the George Garrett Award from AWP for Service to Literature, the Allen Ginsberg, Paterson Award, Bordighera and Columbia Poetry Awards, A Pen Fiction Award,  CPB's Silver Medal.

Other poems by this author