Four Poems by Alessandra Bava

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.

Mrs. God

“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

Beauty. Like

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.

You flicker.

A garden of mouthings.

Sweetness, sweetness.

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.

#poetry #ekphrastic #alessandrabava