Saturday, June 25, 2005

Mary di Michele

Stanzas for Sulmo (Sulmano)


I wish I were a girl in Sicily
-----------------------------------------------on my lips was blasphemy.
Would Ovid whine that way
-----------------------------------------------for his own exile, to be beached
again at the Black Sea,
-----------------------------------------------out of reach of the beloved
hills of Sulmo, glittering
-----------------------------------------------with grapes and goat droppings?


My poetry made me immortal
-----------------------------------------------and my name still gives Phaon
breath in the story Ovid wrote
-----------------------------------------------I am no longer joyless and dry
though the boy forgets
-----------------------------------------------Sappho as soon as he picks
up his clothes, he forgets
-----------------------------------------------what heat, what words, can do.


If indeed
-----------------------------------------------we toiled at the task of love
you know
-----------------------------------------------the man was no
boy or the boy
-----------------------------------------------was no man.
I always had good
-----------------------------------------------reason to prefer women.


Her face, more radiant
-----------------------------------------------than Phoebus whose name
means shining,
-----------------------------------------------blinds me to a thousand
and one others.
-----------------------------------------------more heliotrope than human,
Without shame,
-----------------------------------------------I still watch, I still wait.

This poem is reprinted from Debriefing the Rose (House of Anansi Press Ltd., Toronto, Canada, 1998)

Mary di Michele is the author of eight books of poetry including Stranger in You and Debriefing the Rose, as well as a novel, Under My Skin. She is the editor of the influential 1980s anthology Anything is Possible. Mary di Michele has one of the most distinctive voices in North American writing. Her poetry has been included in over a dozen anthologies. She has won several prizes: the CBC poetry competition, 1980; the Silver Medal, DuMaurier Award for Poetry, 1982; Air Canada Writing Award, 1984; the Toronto Arts Award, 1990; and the ARC Confederation Poets Award, 1996. Her work is widely anthologised and has been translated into French, Spanish, Italian and Dutch. Born in Italy and raised in Toronto; since 1990 she has been teaching creative writing in the English department at Concordia University , Montreal , where she is now full professor.

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