Poetry Supplement Summer 1999, Volume 17.0
Born in England, Anne Blonstein has lived in Basel, Switzerland, since 1983, where she now works as a freelance editor, translator, and writer. Other pieces in the series "the butterflies and the burnings" have appeared or are forthcoming in, among others, Collages & Bricolages, Colorado Review, Mesechabe, New Orleans Review, and Tessera.
two ghost faces: from kateri tekakwitha to caterina benincasa
they took us. and so we invented a consolation of teaching and tears. because we had lost the cloud-cleft through which the eyes of the winter moon could purify us. the brittle eye empty of time and the chaste eye—one the color of frost one as blue as necessity—watching over the seven famished sisters as they plait maize seeds into their hair.
the torn sugar moon bursts into the darkness of a mourning night. on a land pocked with orthodoxy and fear the innocent like the maple tree will smear the hatchet that felled them. the next spell will wear a silver girdle of terseness. and as we the last saints go up the aisle two old women will guard the dish collecting drops of bitter jest at the foot of the cross.
when the moon fishes the sky for the sound of fragments and the downy yellow violet brushes its anthers across the origin to people the world with poems.
the pumpkin's sweet heart gives rebirth in a nettlebed of deviations. the sharp smile of the planting moon edges into the ceremony where none can make certain the medicine of meaning. in the air above st marks square flocks of ravens circle like the soot in smoke. a sore tooth gnaws at the first maize shoot. generations fertilize the fields with the ground bones of time.
strawberry moon. birthmark in the sky that makes the fences smile. we needed a ceremonial to turn the broken spirits around. to deliver a cool delight to the wild liver and fractured eyes. to control the delusions palpitating in have not. from its thin acuteness we sipped grave conclusions. but a residue of diversity remained. from the broken freshness someone inhaled responsibility someone achieved seven days of fragile perplexity and just as the latter discerned the dead child's soul held in the pink light of morning the priests opened a tomb in the memory-perfect matrix.
how to endure the prayers of silent women. but how to conquer without retaliation. by abbreviating a chaste eternity each day accumulates the forgotten griefs of purity. in the vomited cuisine of matter and facts with indecent names the corpses of moments open their mouths to an image of lunacy. we wail. we wail. all of us. the savage saints. and as we grow accustomed to a hungry speech invades the securities of truth so we can lick the neglected vowels no one left for us to label woman.
and so the epidemics of variola and virtue mistook us. now we must attend to payment of the deaths. fortune burned red at the bases of trees and only a smoky sliver of the seventh night remains. misgivings cost us our speech of foretellings trampled into the ground of reason. force-secured doubts silenced the moon and the hawks chased the green avidity of her emptied beams. a beaten beauty plundered the scene.
tonight the moon bled with the sweetness of suckled corn. we watched a feather dance in the deprivations between never and ever. we may keep faith in names.
the fresh moon fades. now morning opens its five exemplary leaves: bonding, laughter, generosity, patterns, and distance. heaven supporting its roots in the earth's textures.
thus we perform the right of personal chances. oceanwise around the fresh harvest of dead descriptions. the moon's cheek importunes us with the blackness of peach stones. the stars are tears before dawn.
we mourn as we rememorize the mud-stained messages on letters tied with ribbons of bead with ribbons of weed. we foresee past doctrines swimming through a blue-crossed embroidery. the lakes have possessed the souls from the sea. leak them back into our histories. they have the capacity for worlds of civility and for worlds of violence. the last moon hunts its fleeting partner. dissolves out of the dimensions of forgetfulness.
we can mix the divinities of the earth and the divisions of the word. our inexperience grows with our knowledge. the children will elaborate the letters of strength and the lessons of forgiveness installing orals of time into the past perfect lines and notions trusting the look that can recognize its need. children perhaps you will elect a time for the emigrated to surprise you with their divinations from the other side of annihilation. and as you gamble and as you trade in traditions cold moons will build bridges to your sufferings.
a very cold moon hangs over the mordant roofs of siena. but aataentsic won't fall through the hole in the sky tonight. will select instead an acorn of lovers' names and fill it with assignations. a challenge to the muslin sorrow that noon is but a symbol of the place. devote more attention to the lonely changes. in a mask stained red. in a coat as capricious as nonsapient knowledge.
take a prodigious step through docility and omnipotence.