Archival Features, Poems

David Ciminello: “Love, Lorena”

“Love, Lorena” appears in the current issue of Poetry Northwest, our sixth in the new series. Of his poem David Ciminello writes, “as a writer I am most concerned with the musicality of language and how certain notes can be struck with the right word choice and word order.I also consider myself a visual writer. I like to work from images.

“The face of Eleanor Roosevelt is one that has always fascinated me – how homely and how beautiful she was. In researching Eleanor I watched footage of her horseback riding and frolicking with female companions and was struck by how happy she seemed. Upon further research I learned of her affair with Lorena Hickok and learned how, even with bold evidence at hand (explicit love letters), the relationship is not one that is ‘universally accepted by historians.’ I wanted to write a poem in response to this.”

Love, Lorena

Carving corner cases
for the rooms at Val-Kill,
filling them with books and news
and leather-framed snaps of me.

Charge of the bosom brigade!
To Eleanor, my dearest love,
sharing my bed with you,
tender moments in our linen cave,

tickling away your father, my mother.
We were bound for the Taj Majal
on our own rogue elephants,
snuggling down to the pond,

you all of six foot, an iron cross,
carried me, round and hunched,
to the water’s edge,
my face next to yours.

Resting in the weeds and reeds
I kissed away your thoughts of
Franklin and Lucy at Warm Springs.
Baptized by whiskey and Hollandaise,

we were the lemon gravy girls
in silk scarves and red lipstick,
work shirts and battle boots,
all the while the world in bread lines

begging for milk,
we suckled each other
swimming around in
poverty’s strength and delight

ducking the mangled legs of
your president.
Je t’aime et je t’adore!
Eleanor! Oh, Eleanor!


David Ciminello is the author of the feature film Bruno. His fiction has appeared in the literary journal Lumina. A former assistant editor of Poetry Northwest, he currently lives and writes in New York City.

“Love, Lorena” appears in the Fall-Winter 2008-09 v3.n2 issue of Poetry Northwest Subscribe today