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Patricia Fargnoli

Patricia Fargnoli, born in Hartford, Connecticut, earned a BA from Trinity College in Hartford and an MSW from the University of Connecticut School of Social Work. A retired psychotherapist, she began studying poetry in her mid-30s. Her first book, Necessary Light (Utah State University Press, 1999), was published when she was 62. Since then she’s published three additional books and three chapbooks. Her latest book, Winter (Hobblebush Books, 2013), was the runner-up for the Jacar Book Press. Then, Something (Tupelo Press, 2005) won the ForeWord Magazine Silver Poetry Book of the Year Award, and it was the cowinner of the New England Poetry Club’s Shelia Motton Book Award and an honorable mention for the Erik Hoffer Awards. Duties of the Spirit (Tupelo Press, 2001) won the 2005 Jane Kenyon Literary Award for an Outstanding Book of Poetry.

Fargnoli served as New Hampshire poet laureate from 2006 to 2009 and was past associate editor of the Worcester Review. She has taught at the Frost Place Poetry Festival, the New Hampshire Institute of Art, the Lifelong Learning program of Keene State College, and privately. Awards include an honorary BFA from The New Hampshire Institute of Arts and a MacDowell fellowship. Published in anthologies such as the Ecopoetry Anthology and Garrison Keillor’s Good Poems, her work has also appeared widely in journals such as Poetry, Ploughshares, North American Review, Harvard Review, Alaska Quarterly, and Prairie Schooner. She resides in Walpole, New Hampshire. (Poetry Foundation)


I might not normally gravitate to this poem, but in my two years as a counselor with the Crisis Pregnancy Center I heard versions of this story over and over again. It touched a soft place in my heart. Don’t we all have a hole we’re trying to plug up with something? We all want to belong… This line is so important. It’s what we should be teaching our kids: “… I was young and didn’t know yet we can choose our lives…”


Breaking Silence — For My Son

The night you were conceived
your father drove up Avon Mountain
and into the roadside rest
that looked over the little city,
its handful of scattered sparks.
I was eighteen and thin then
but the front seat of the 1956 Dodge
seemed cramped and dark,
the new diamond, I hadn’t known
how to refuse, trapping flecks of light.
Even then the blackness was thick
as a muck you could swim through.
Your father pushed me down
on the scratchy seat, not roughly
but as if staking a claim,
and his face rose like
a thin-shadowed moon above me.
My legs ached in those peculiar angles,
my head bumped against the door.
I know you want me to say I loved him
but I wanted only to belong—to anyone.
So I let it happen,
the way I let all of it happen—
the marriage, his drinking, the rage.
This is not to say I loved you any less—
only I was young and didn’t know yet
we can choose our lives.
It was dark in the car.
Such weight and pressure,
the wet earthy smell of night,
a slickness like glue.
And in a distant inviolate place,
as though it had nothing at all
to do with him, you were a spark
in silence catching.


Picture Source: Gwarlingo