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Jacket 16 — March 2002   |   # 16  Contents   |   Homepage   |  Catalog   |    

Overland magazine feature

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.Her work is widely anthologised and has been translated into French, Spanish, Italian and Dutch. Born in Italy and raised in Toronto, she now lives in Montreal where she is an associate professor in English at Concordia University.

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