End of the Cinque Terre Trail
by Christine Vovakes

She had flown thousands of miles,
trekked the pilgrim’s road,
dipped her hand in crumbling cathedral fonts,
each town leaving
a residue of unease.
What, after all, did she want?

She was in the last hotel of her itinerary,
barely dawn on market day,
when the sound of boxes plopping down
in the square below her window
jostled her awake.

Then, like a bird reared
in La Scala’s rafters,
the vendor in a soaring tenor
sang Puccini to no one
as he set out strawberries,
tender spring onions
and a bucket of peonies
picked along the way.

by Christine Vovakes

I’m thinking of you, remembering
your mother shawled and observant
at the back window as birds
jabbered in the cracked tree,

and the afternoons you carried
her out in her wheelchair
to sit in the sun,

and that Sunday before dinner
when she recalled a poem memorized
in her youth, and stumbled about the verses,
her delighted smile going around and around
trying to recite each word.  

Is your heart settled about your last years
with her?  Our relationships with parents
rarely resolve.  A family is one long root
twined down the ages,
with each generation
firmly knotted to the next:
the original prayer beads
turned over and over in our palms.

by Christine Vovakes

Back at her desk
four weeks of empty memos
said she had not existed
in this world of deadlines
and serious news.

She had gone to a far sea,
to country lanes narrowed
by wildflowers and blackberries.
She had been a month of blank pages
frivolity filled,
a calendar turned into confetti.


Christine Vovakes lives in northern California.  Her articles and photos
have appeared in several publications, including
The Sacramento Bee,
The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, and the San
Francisco Chronicle
.  Vovakes won a Patricia Painton Scholarship at
the 2005 Paris Writers Workshop for a piece of short fiction.  She has
poems in
Boston Literary Magazine, Watershed, and a recent issue of
Apple Valley Review, and forthcoming in JAMA (Poetry and
Medicine) and
Shamrock Haiku Journal.

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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 2, Number 2
(Fall 2007)

Copyright © 2007
by Leah Browning, Editor.  

All future rights to material
published in the
Valley Review
are retained
by the individual authors
and artists.

A Friend at His Mother’s
Returning from a Long