Poem of the Month

By Mary di Michele

Published on August 31, 2012

The fall of ’47 I was 25 and still living

in Viluta. What made me stay so long?

What made me linger in that nothing place,

that hamlet of ten houses?


I remember November rain then more

rain flooding the courtyard, the sloshy silence

of a sodden Sunday night, all the world sopping,

drip, dripping, except


for me, I am dry-eyed, I am a desert,

whatever the world is, I am not. The train

tracks beckoned me long ago when I was

still a virgin I wanted


my body shattered, torn and rendered

the way it rendered me.Three years since first

I saw N. on the small bridge over the Vila,

since first I heard the unbroken


crystal voice crying out to some unseen

friend, that lonesome calling an omen

of loss.Two and a half since that earthen

hut where he succumbed


to my desire, one year since my love

for him began to wane as his body

waxed, limbs thickening, maturing, his mouth

morphing into his mother’s mouth.


So I felt no true sense of regret when

N. left town before me. The last time I heard

from him was in a letter to Mother, who taught

him French, in a postscript


addressed to me: je vous pense avec tendresse.

Yet he bore all the weight of guilt, the leaden

burden of my sin. It’s not for nothing

these memories invade me


a quarter of a century later in the Eternal

City, in the wee hours when my desk lamp’s

the only light on via Eufrate, the only light

on the dark side of Earth.


It was the happiest, the saddest time in

my life, the glory of love, the horror

of war. The future was the past. Solely

the present mattered: that slow


walk on the dark road to San Pietro,

the moon above us, a scimitar,

slipping into a grove of acacias to kiss

unseen, safely to kiss.

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