Last Trip to Try
to Make it Work
Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary
Volume 1, Number 2
Copyright © 2006
by Leah Browning, Editor.
All future rights to material
published in the Apple
Valley Review are retained
by the individual authors
by Susan H. Case
An antique store in Nancy,
an Art Deco box.
Hundreds of breaks in the grainy surface
Shagreen, a green not of land,
but untanned skin of sea,
ground placoid scales embedded,
the first artisan to use it.
Worked its toughness into royal swords.
Shafts for protractors and telescopes.
Touch nothing, not even one another.
This protuberant beauty we can’t afford.
Hard, such sacrifice of pliability
—to trade ebb for denticled persistence.
The box, ivory inlay on its edges.
How unskilled we both are with our hands,
to nix these abrasive remains.
Susan H. Case is a professor at the New York Institute of
Technology. Her recent work has appeared in many journals
including Eclipse, Georgetown Review, Gulf Stream Magazine,
Oyez Review, Pebble Lake Review, and Saranac Review, as well
as the anthology, Rough Places Plain: Poems of the Mountains.
Recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize, she is the author of The
Scottish Café (Slapering Hol Press, 2002), Hiking the Desert in
High Heels (RightHandPointing, 2005), and Anthropologist in Ohio
(Main Street Rag Publishing Company, 2005). More information
about Case is available at http://iris.nyit.edu/~sgray/.
On “Last Trip to Try to Make it Work”:
When a relationship is falling apart, it’s not uncommon for a
couple to try to salvage it by having one last child or taking one
last trip. I myself have tried one last trip and thinking about that
helped generate the beginning of this poem. While working on
its versions, I became re-interested in shagreen—its various
manifestations in antique objects. I’ve always been a fan of
craft work and artisan-constructed decorative objects, though
I have no strong talents in that area, myself. Nor do I own
anything made of shagreen. All of these threads came together
within the poem. A friend of mine, equally fascinated with
shagreen, told me she loved the idea of a poem about it,
although the poem is as much about a personal situation as it is
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