Jeannine Hall Gailey is the author of Becoming the Villainess, published by Steel Toe Books. Poems from that book were featured on NPR’s The Writer’s Almanac and Verse Daily; two were included in 2007’s The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. She volunteers as an editorial consultant for Crab Creek Review and currently teaches at the MFA program at National University. Her new book, She Returns to the Floating World, will be published by Kitsune Books in 2011.
Her web site is: www.webbish6.com
I miss Sicily,
the blood oranges and olive groves,
sunshine and seaweed.
Here, my garden grows drowsy,
out of the light: white poppies,
Lenten Rose, bleeding hearts.
The neighbors aren’t unpleasant,
their faces are mild and pale,
their dreams stunted, undemanding
like the herbs I coax out of this cold ground:
valerian, verbena. I work without gloves,
ripping my cuticles, staining my fingertips with mud.
Even the weeds here are sickly.
Lavender, rosemary – the scents seem diluted, bluer
now than during my visits home.
How strange for spring to live here,
where she cannot bloom:
a prisoner of these shaded grounds.
I dream of fields lush with gypsum,
blossoms of chrysolite and blue lace agates,
opals like ghosts of former jewels that creep
along the membranes of caves.
(first appeared in Becoming the Villainess)
She Justifies Running Away
I just wanted to be somewhere
I could smell lemon trees in April
where the sea wind wasn’t quite as cold
(you know this damp grows in my lungs
like a plague) and the sky a bit less weepy.
I missed my land of pomegranates and figs,
of ripe cheese and blood orange,
the tart black taste of volcanic soil.
It wasn’t you, sweet prince, or our tiny castle
(the dust mounting in closets) or the crying
wounded mouths of children.
It was sunlight that burned my memory.
It was my lips that craved a sweeter fruit.
It was the citrus blossoms in spring,
the twisted cypresses, the warm salt air.
It was the white, frolicking goats in me that called.
I will shuck myself open to the blue hot world.
(first appeared in Redactions)
All poems on this post: © Jeannine Hall Gailey
Published with the permission of Jeannine Hall Gailey