Vanderbilts by Cait Weiss


Broken neck of bird of paradise, yuccas
slit & all the tiny blown to pieces bits of bottle
brush fluff our backyard. Our yardman’s name
is Martin. Our housekeeper is Gladys. She crossed
into America in the trunk of a car. We are 2 young
white sisters rolling rrrs to become her as she plugs
in our night lights. We eat popsicles
poolside. We hear Gladys’ language, learn all stories
from Mom. There once was an angel
on our street. She stole shipping rights
in the Atlantic, made millions, but then,
didn’t want it enough. Now she sleeps
on the driveway of a curled street in Encino
near the Gelsons where the Jackson 5 babies
were born. Vanderbilt. She is real. Mom
says, Come live with us. Or: Mom puts the strap
with the ball between her teeth. Or: Mom
shakes the capsules into her palm. Or:
Mom’s dad calls her Potato as the orb
Valley sun slides itself into bed. 60
vicodin. Gladys calling her angel. Martin
appears when no other men show,
explains the limbs of all our trees are dying.
He is kind. We girls see the lines the earth kissed
into his face. The bottlebrush sheds blood-drops
all the same. Or maybe, Mom shouts through our canyon,
                I am not even beginning to understand

Cait Weiss is an MFA candidate at the Ohio State University, a Poetry Line Editor at the Los Angeles Review of Books and the Online Editor of The Journal. Since moving to Ohio, she has developed a program bridging OSU’s Creative Writing MFA candidates with local public high school students interested in prose and poetry, establishing workshops throughout the Columbus area. Her work has been published in FIELD, The Pinch, Slipstream and other journals.