Mobirise Web Site Maker


Winter, 2005

Ioanna Warwick

Four Poems


A woman stripped, a woman chained
to a rock - I must appear
a part of the landscape.
I see the monster's faceless head,
its neck a triumphant
arc of truth -

because in this world,
truth means pain.
It's the lie that blooms
into spray like silver smoke:
tell me it is only
a dolphin's smooth dive.
Tell me it's the moon,
bowing to my beauty.

Once when I was twelve I ran
into the banquet hall,
my hair a dark wind, on my hands
the pungent smell of juniper.
All the men leaned toward me.
I blushed and ran out.
Ran to my big cousin, and we raced
on wet sand, we climbed over
the slippery driftwood. I boasted
I was strong as any boy.
He said, "Want me to show you
how easy it would be to rape you?"
And he showed me.

The monster is slow as grief.
This is not hunger, this is ritual.
Why should it be much
to surrender this brief
shoreline of breath
with its clefts, its troublesome mouths -
The high priest in his plumage of death
said the monster too
is snared in the sea of Fate.
Forgive him, child.

Is truth what we want?
Waiting for my death,
already I'm torn.
But past the gate of bone
I rise, I walk. Snow shines in the pass.
Mists open and close,
a meadow of clouds;
raindrops on pine needles
like small stars I slide
with the tip of my tongue, and drink.

I come upon water
as still as the sky,
step into a boat and lie down.
A sheet of light begins to unfold
over my feet, my thighs.
After it covers my eyes,
there is only light.

The waves claw me,
the foam hisses and crawls.
My mother's praying for a miracle:
that a hero will
swoop down like a great bird, and then
I will be chained to him.

He will never see
that even if I am saved,
I have already died -
that smiling at him, I am far
away, not on this barren rock,
but all leafage, a valley
of infinite green -
where the moment of truth no longer
marbles into betrayal.

My face gives way to the clouds.
Space enters my outline.

In death there is no death;
]for the stars there is no night.


goddess or girl, we did not know

I wear purple like a mystical sunset.
That's when the men arrive.
I was a failure in life.
Now with my herd of handsome swine,
everyone thinks me successful.

But it's too easy, loosening my hair,
letting the late light
play its game of glints
as I greet them, posing in a marble
alignment of shoulder and thigh.

Too practiced, serving them spiced wine,
singing my beautiful sad song.
Too familiar, that tremor
when they feel the tug
away from the need to be human.

The sun with its heart of fire
sets the sea on fire, then is gone.
In vain the waves spread their white veil
to make shine the black-pebbled shore.
I knew a boy before I became

queen of this doomed island.
I put my head in his lap
like a tired child - and he
held his breath
and closed his eyes.
No one has really
touched me since.

The Journey of Penelope

Over and over I roam
through an endless house.
I open doors and walk in,
a little scared and hushed,

as if entering new
chambers of the heart.
These are not guilty

only unfinished solitudes.
I want to find
not the way out,
but the way deeper in.

From room to room I follow
the rich gleaming among
tarnished icons -
no wonder it takes twenty years.
For love of legend I lie:
it takes longer than that
One's whole life.
The journey is endless.

Danae In The Desert

I used to be someone waiting
at train stations swathed in smoky mist -
dissolving in the lamps' unearthly halos,
the rails glistening, beaded with metallic rain.

And I loved that veil of waiting,
that blurred world - the vanishing point
the impatient peered into, imagining
a faint, growing light at the end.

The erotics of railway stations!
So many shouts of recognition,
greetings, infinite departures -
warning whistles, embraces breaking off -

and underneath, the humid heart,
half-mist, half-drizzle,
that railroad weather always on the verge
of love and tears.

Now I stand rainless and trainless.
Memory, mother of the muses,
tell me this is luck: Danae in the desert,
I will not be swept away by a flood.
Unswept, unwept, in bright light,
let me borrow
for a moment, for a breath,
the bride's veil of fog."