by: Rosalind Pace
Rosalind Pace’s poems are lush meditations that weave questions, startling images, and metaphysical yearning to create a delicate, enthralling alchemy.
Which way? As in crossroad,
as in double, as in old rugged,
as in how great uncle Andreas
scowled under eyebrows thick
as overhanging ledges of ice
as he peered into bright sky
or watched the empty road
down which his last living
relatives left to cross
the indifferent ocean, carrying
their wooden crosses under
woolen capes, pieces of hope
they hung onto when the sea
rose up all around them,
Kari linking hands with Lars
as they crisscrossed cat’s cradle
on the tilting deck. Which way?
As in following the true cross
whose splinters bless a thousand
sacred places. Too much blood
has been spilled over what
that means. Which way?
Cross as in choosing the road
that leads away from the house.
Cross as in “cross me and I will
curse you.” Cross as in old Andreas
who crossed his arms across
his chest and felt what he felt.
This is a true story.
Cross my heart.
When You Have Crossed the Sand Sea
your eyes hurt as if two black holes
in your brain have sucked up all
thoughts you thought you were sure of.
The ghibli from Sahara blows and wails
and the walls of a high-ceilinged empty
caravanserai look, through your eyes
pocked with grit, like wavering wings
of the archangel Gabriel, and you just
get a glimpse of ragged blue tunics
other angels wear but then they are gone
and you are left with the long shadow
of yourself, or is it the actual body
you now inhabit, fallen on the sun-
drenched floor as if in prayer
or resignation. Another portal opens.
The desert wind has spoken and it is all
as insubstantial as dust, making you
speechless, and crazy with thirst.
ILLUMINATION AND THE HOLY HA HA
The old scribe twirled his brush,
delighting in blots of cerulean,
jet, or crimson that fell precisely
where he wished on the sacred page
which we read as round bodies
of birds released from a small wagon
pulled by a dwarf who crouches
in the bottom left margin.
What kind of understanding
do we reach as we try to fathom
the flight of the birds, their exact
placement in relation to the text?
We wonder where they might soar,
where they will alight and if they are
headed for that almost infinitesimal
stone tower at the top of the page,
amid curlicues of flowers. What
does it mean? Maybe the scribe
bent over his marginalia to hide
these doodles with the sleeves
of his robe and is now laughing
at our furrowed brows,
our lowered eyes and tight smiles,
foolish creatures that we are.
Rosalind Pace has received an Artist Fellowship in Poetry from the Massachusetts Cultural Council for 2016. Her poems have appeared recently in Passager, Atlanta Review (International Publication Prize), upstreet, and over the years in Iowa Review, APR, Ploughshares, and many other journals.