After Francesca Woodman’s Untitled, Boulder CO, 1972-75, black and white silver gelatin print on barite paper
Your torso leans against a wooden wall,
light floods over your nudity, over the seven
clothespins inflicting pain to your nipples, to
your navel, to your body, as the Seven Sorrows.
Your pose is so statuesque, your hand and snake
ring rest on your bold thighs, your patch of pubic
hair radiates darkness. A chasm opens engulfing
you, as the resilient ivy climbing its way up gasps for
air. “I’m always available,” you would note.
Your were your own poetic model, surrounded by
symbolic motifs. A feminist version of a wounded
saint, terribly iconic and so hard to pin down.
“There must be more to life than to simply stay alive.”
– William Faulkner
Diffused rage pervades
your empyrean collections.
Yours were such constellations
as Sleeping Beauty, Jupiter(‘s
Abuse), Padded Bras, Sirius(’s
Lines) and Colored Panties,
You were an awesome poet,
more so a woman.
Your words’ whip strokes bore
the hardness of stalagmites,
a rocking madness so
sensible. A melancholia of
the senses nailed you at
that table where you sat
hammering words as heavy
as god. You knew you were
more than Mrs. Dog: a
humane deity with huge
wings, boasting the mastery
of a goldsmith and the skill
of a carpenter. You cut
yourself the most precious
glass coffin, made of words
glistening with impetuous
Snow White your sapphire
eyes pierce us still
with peacock cries.
(for Anne Sexton)
Soon the Flesh
(A Plath Cento)
Stasis in darkness
a pure acetylene Virgin
all wants, desire.
Stepping from this skin
I shall take no bite of your body
I cannot touch you.
How the sun’s poultice draws
on my inflammation.
A garden of mouthings.
Taste it, dark red!
I read poems women wrote in foreign languages,
songs made of shreds, insanity, winds, veins, stars,
storms. They draw me in cities I’ve never been
before – Budapest, Moscow, Buenos Aires – but
everything seems so familiar: Kashnitz’s walls,
Tsvetaeva’s firmament, Pizarnik’s archipelagos.
I feel the Danube flow in my blood, the Red Square
open up a gap in my heart, milongas echo deep within.
It hurts to be a poet. It hurts to bear lips full of words,
a throat choked by swan’s songs, teeth awaiting to devour
beauty, a tongue intent at swallowing oceans, eyes craving
starlit galaxies and restless feet ready to walk the thin
– simply untranslatable – line.
Alessandra Bava is a poet and a translator. Her work has appeared in journals such as Gargoyle, Plath Profiles, THRUSH and Waxwing. Her chapbooks They Talk About Death,Diagnosis and Love & Other Demons have been published in the States. She is currently writing the biography of a contemporary American poet.