Friday, November 8, 2019

Two Poems by Oriana Ivy


What do you look like, my soul? 
Do you have big eyes and small breasts?
Arms that stretch across continents,

and a fishs tail? All the aquamarines
and indigos of ocean,
and the approaching night —

between me and me, a streaming veil.
A childless woman is always a virgin,
weaving a shroud, pregnant with herself.

When did you teach me to dress in the wind?
To carry speech like loose change?
You made my life a foreign language,

homeless without endearments.
Death will come to me in Spanish,
La Muerte with its music, 

its slow kiss of vowels —
long returns of the Baltic,
white dunes where my life began — 

where I swam in your cold love
like the tears of the bronze mermaid
who remembers her lost name.

I cannot bear to think of my face
becoming ashes, but you say you are 
most beautiful just before

vanishing. Dont drown,
you whisper, and one blue 
eve youll see me flame 

then go out like the sun.
But having been.


La noche es infinita, she begins.
What is born in her mouth
slides out slippery like moonlight.
I pour infinity

into my native tongue,
let it create another world:
The night is not finished.
The night is not finished, it waits

behind the unfinished trees.
It makes the dogs bark,
makes coyotes laugh. What
do they hear that we cannot hear?

Infinidad, she says because
we’re infinite, but we are not
finished: the Universe is mostly
dark laced with dark,

pierced by the cry of the beginning.
There’s a space like a lover
that opens only once. Gabriela
waits, a lily burns in her hand.

What will you say to her?
Can you utter such a total Yes?
Do not ask if the angel
is real. Who wants a heaven

that is always day? We need
la noche, our native land,
black leche of the soul,
white of stars.

Oriana Ivy was born in Poland, and came to this country when she was 17.  Her poems, essays, book reviews, and translations include Poetry, Ploughshares, Best American Poetry, Nimrod, Spoon River Review, The Iowa Review, Black Warrior Review, and many others. She’s the prize winning author of the chapbooks April Snow (Finishing Line Press) and From a New World (Paper Nautilus), and has a new one, How to Jump from a Moving Train, forthcoming from Cervena Barva Press. A former journalist and community college instructor, she leads the online Poetry Salon and writes a poetry-and-culture blog.

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