Caroline Chavatel


Around the corner, a photograph of a painting
of a meteorite and behind it, a childhood swirled

into color. The debris is the art,

surviving impact. Outside is
a security guard behind glass, or maybe
he isn’t.  To the left

runs a landscape or a subway. We are either
inside or out, never sure.


The little boy walks to school, sees a wall of birds

with all our faces written on it. He admires the gradient
of the feathers. It reminds him of his mother’s eyelids. He spells out

the colors in his notebook in case he is
colorblind. How do we understand the painting

of the world when we are working with different palettes? his teacher asks
rhetorically. She is proving a point about privilege. She is proving a point about living.


Back inside, up one floor, is a butterfly
vivarium. Through the acrylic wall
is flutter, and to the side: How To

Grow Your Own Butterfly
Garden. And with this, it’s clear gardens are
things to be grown, not beds for others’ growing.

Right wall: Echinacea purpurea, Salvia coccinea, Phlox paniculata. These
are either nectar plants to attract butterflies
or diseases.
The guard or the sign explains the meaning.


In the same school, years later, the boy joins
a volunteer group to collect
trash from the street. Candy wrappers, splintered
wood, cardboard, broken glass, a much-too-loved armchair, a
Styrofoam coffee cup with a name inked on.


Down the hall are bones and signs
to name the bone, reminding

the people they have the same anatomy as the building. They’re either
in the burning heart or the arm.


Years later he meets the artist or is the artist. He is the story

or will become it. He scribbles his address,

a poem, an honest drawing of the landscape—one

that refuses to blue the black, or rough the gentle

ripple. The broken bottle glass glued becomes
his mirror, and he is the artist.


Caroline Chavatel is currently an MFA candidate at New Mexico State University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Gulf Coast, Fugue, So to Speak, Crab Creek Review, and Sugar House Review, among several others. She has been nominated for an AWP Intro Award and her poem, “The Given, These Bodies,” was selected by Phillip B. Williams for The Cossack Review‘s first annual October Prize for Poetry. She lives in Las Cruces, NM.

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