M. J. Iuppa is the Director of the Visual and Performing Arts Minor Program and Lecturer in Creative Writing at St. John Fisher College; and since 2000 to present, is a part time lecturer in Creative Writing at The College at Brockport. Since 1986, she has been a teaching artist, working with students, K-12, in Rochester, NY, and surrounding area. Most recently, she was awarded the New York State Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Adjunct Teaching, 2017. She has four full length poetry collections, This Thirst (Kelsay Books, 2017), Small Worlds Floating (2016) as well as Within Reach (2010) both from Cherry Grove Collections; Night Traveler (Foothills Publishing, 2003); and 5 chapbooks. She lives on a small farm in Hamlin NY.
Please visit: www.mjiuppa.com
This morning’s sea cannot erase its shades of blue, nor
the lemony sunlight that ignites the cliffs with small fires, or
the spiral flight of blue-black swallows, cross-stitching
the reserve’s remote and thick air.
Sitting here, I could be from any century, contemplating
the day’s work at hand. I hear the squabbles of the family
staying in the villa just above us. Their baby cries.
The cats, who own our villa, stand at the screen door, wanting
last night’s leftover sardines and slices of stale bread.
We give in— to them—to the winding mountain roads that lead
us to either a dead end or a vista, unlike anything we have seen
before—old fishing boats moored in a harbor—a wistfulness
we seem to know.
I Saw You Crying in the Church
The Church of the Immaculate Conception,
Capo Market, Palermo
Pushing the heavy wooden door, making a space
where I can slip through darkness, leaving the bustle
of the Capo market behind me to find an interior full
of mosaics—a Garden of Eden made of marble that
appears fluid in its drape, and the face of Mary—her
eyes, thoughtful and steady, in what cannot be undone.
Time moves quickly to admonish us for our knowledge
learned by touch; and yet, who can resist tracing this
beauty with light fingertips— all of us wanting
to know how this sanctuary was made so long ago
by an order of women who would never show
their faces to the world’s contradiction.
We sit in the pews, in the coolness of stone, reading
the wall’s Genesis as if it were the beginning— and you,
you were crying— knowing it was the end.
Squat on a low stonewall, hovering above sea level, feral
cats observe the town’s twilight as if they were looking
through a keyhole.
Each knows its place on the stonewall & most prefer
the view facing the road that winds its way to the steamy
kitchen where tarnished pots boil pasta just for them.
They wait patiently for shadows to come— listening for
the familiar shuffle of shoes—the sporadic grunts of heft
& hoist, and sudden rain of spaghetti splashing upon the
ledge of the stonewall.
Tonight, beneath a net of distant stars, they’ll eat— each
taking a turn, while others keep watch.
Ruins at Segesta, Sicily
We, slow-footed travelers, scuffle our way up rock slab
steps to the summit where a Doric temple anchors
its place among ruins.
There, beneath bright sun, a goddess awaits
her daily offerings of fuchsia, or baskets of olives, or
our steady gaze upon her beauty . . .
She knows our curiosity. Do we dare
stand inside the temple with its open views
where we can see everything at once?
Which one of us will be first to look up through this
roofless portal— soft throat exposed—an ultimate
sacrifice that only Hera can forego.
All poems on this post: © M. J. Iuppa
Published with the permission of M. J. Iuppa
Photo credit: Meghan Rose Tonery