Kelli Russell Agodon is the author of Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room, winner of the White Pine Press Poetry Prize, which is currently a finalist for the Foreword Book of the Year Award in Poetry. She is also the author of Small Knots (2004) and the chapbook, Geography.
Kelli lives in Washington State with her family where she is an avid mountain biker as well as the co-editor of Seattle’s 28-year-old print literary journal, Crab Creek Review, and the co-founder of Two Sylvias Press.
You can find her blogging at Book of Kells, where she writes about living and writing creatively: www.ofkells.blogspot.com or visit her website at: www.agodon.com She would love to return to Italy one day.
—Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy
Listen, love—the cliffs are tired
of holding us up, tired of the questions
we ask each other about time. But
we’ve forgotten our schedules tonight
to find the luxury of silk, pillow
case, camisole, the petal wings
of the pastel moths fluttering
at the window. We lie together in
a bed of beach music above a small
village of fishermen, of ferries, pathways.
When they lower the boats, the sea swallows
hard and we slip away into a blue
comforter not knowing who will stay under
and who will make it back to shore.
After Leaving the Floating City
In Italy, I understood to be successful
I shouldn’t regret
that I spent our rent money
on a painting
of the moon in a reddish sky.
That summer we walked through Venice
as if we had a map of broken statues.
We pointed to the corners
of buildings we thought no one noticed,
the collision of saint and sky.
I understood my life
was already falling into place
like the history of what I should do
found in notes of philosophers. I studied
the patterns of women in the piazzas
and asked myself
which shadow glittered, which shadow
dimmed? And I learned not to regret
the little things that changed me—
the flower in the gondolier’s shirt,
the pigeon that refused my bread.
And I remembered how you whispered
to me as we stood in a crowd
of strangers, saying, I’m glad you are here,
even if this is the last time we meet.
San Marco, Venice
She is almost enough to make these churches
invisible, make you trade angels for hipsway.
She is the Chianti soaked deep in the cuff
of your shirt and the lipstick left on your skin
in place of goodbye.
You look for her in crowds, the silent one
whose hair could wrap saints in its coils,
You see her between tourists and pigeons
and you want to believe her shadow
could take you someplace,
like a doorway, a window, a wing.
Poetry in this post: © Kelli Russell Agodon
Published with the permission of Kelli Russell Agodon