Poem of the Week | November 22, 2021

This week’s Poem of the Week is “Nocturne, Adolescent” by Caroline Chavatel!

Caroline Chavatel is the author of White Noises (Greentower Press, 2019), which won The Laurel Review’s 2018 Midwest Chapbook Contest. Her work has appeared in AGNI, Sixth Finch, Foundry, and Poetry Northwest, among others. She is co-founding editor of The Shore, an editor at Madhouse Press, and is currently a PhD student at Georgia State University where she is Poetry Editor of New South.


Nocturne, Adolescent

              After Daniel Simko

Outside your house where you first raised
your fist at the no of the evening—that boy
and that car, the Catholic-school-short-hem
rebellion and detention and detention. That
is where, in the bird-light, you learned you are
afraid of being known for what ruins you,
having read that Tiberinus Silvius drowned
in the river they then named after him. And in
that collective caw, diminishing, the leaves jazzed
from their branches, gave you the illusion
of flight. But you considered, outside the house
and its fall-proof gutters, that if something flies,
it does not always wish to, that we might
assign the verb’s danger to it. The birds
transfer, fly north. The new cereal flies off
its shelf, the plate across the room, the fly
stirring both as emblem and noise of its name,
the time it took your bra to go from hooked
to not, defining the evening, all its soft refusal.


Author’s Note

I’ve long been awed by the poetry of Daniel Simko; the opening line of this poem is in reference to Simko’s poem, “Nocturne.” I’ve also long been intrigued by the way loss can define, or hold a presence, such as in Simko’s “pond where no one has drowned.” I like to think that “Nocturne, Adolescent” merges the dark unknowability of the nocturne with the loss of the elegy. In other words— What happens when we are unable to see what we have lost? How do we give it a name?