elizabeth Iannaci

Plague Season

There is a doom that drapes the land,

sours birdsong, emits an acrid tension—

even the hills bare their teeth at one another.

Some eras are like that. Still, there must

needs be a cleft or yawn in Ruin’s grim face

that a ray squeezes through. Surely, even

the Iron Age saw fingers of sunlight

spilling from darkly dappled clouds

to scratch the tops of birches, willows,

alders, and pines. Surely the Celts rested

in meadows, basked, relaxed their tug,

push, lug, roll of boulders. Indeed they

wiped spilled mead from their beards,

chanted canticles to Morrigan or Danu or

the Hound of Ulster before their circles

were absolute. This thought does not make

palatable wine turned to vinegar, mend

civility’s broken wrist. It does remind:

both rose and rue bloom then wilt.

Moonlight doesn’t die. It hides.



If Pierre Auguste Renoir Were to Be My Father


I’ll be one of the Girls

Reading in a Garden

Wear elaborate hats

dresses the color of sunshine

Skin translucent

Sit still, silent in his studio

until my giggles escape, distract him

He’ll spread his arms

Invite me into his lap

Stroke my hair

Call me Babette

The eyes of the most beautiful faces

are always slightly dissimilar, he’ll say,

The petals of a flower are never identical

He’ll send me to the market for

oranges

peaches

pastries

I’ll carry them home in loosely woven

burlap bags

(add wisteria cut from our garden)

place them on a tray

in no particular order

He’ll admire their natural symmetry

Tell me You have a gift

because I’m his daughter

And because I’m his daughter

I will have a gift

(some small part of him)

I will know life

without outline

action set in motion

by its subject

an absence of black

in the shadows


When his hands tire, my small fingers

will massage the meat of his

aching palms

Get lost there

Tell his fortune

Tell his fortune

Tell his fortune


In later years, I’ll fasten to his wrist

with silken ribbons, brushes

he can no longer hold

For now, I’ll kiss each knotted knuckle

Heal him

When he complains about losing

the light

carries me to bed

in his beard I’ll smell turpentine

tobacco

impasto

pastis

look up at the painted stars on the ceiling

Call him Papá

Close my eyes

Dream in color


He will never ask me

why the cat

has red paint on his whiskers

I will never tell him

I wonder how it would be

if Monsieur Monet were my father

 

elizabeth iannaci is a widely published and anthologized, Los Angeles-based poet. She earned her MFA in Poetry from Vermont College of Fine Arts and currently serves as co-director of the VCP L.A. Poets. Elizabeth has appeared at countless venues in the U.S., Slovenia, Poland, Istanbul and Paris, France. Her latest chapbook is The Virgin Turtle Light Show (Latitude 34 Press). She identifies as partially sighted, which accounts for her preference for Paisley over Polka Dots.