Monday, November 22, 2021

Poem: The Strange House of the Past

The Strange House of the Past
Moving through the strange house
      of the past
            the black ink of midnight

what I want is dangerous

      the sound the wind makes,
          a portrait of the world
                in soft orange or blood red.

I dream my cousin teaches me
      how to balance in a kayak
            though I am terrified of water.

In the finished basement where
      I first made love, I learn how to tell
            a rose from a frog, how to break my heart.

Why does the world reek of death and violence?
      In the changing light of the past who
            we were rises up to confront us

We cannot smile or laugh,
      our faces crumple.
            What we want is too dangerous

            to hold or touch.

by Maria Mazziotti Gillan

from Ancestor's Song (Bordighera Press, 2013)

Maria Mazziotti Gillan's new poetry collection is When the Stars Were Still Visible (2021). Other recent publications are the poetry and photography collection, Paterson Light and Shadow and the poetry collections What Blooms in Winter and The Girls in the Chartreuse Jackets which pairs her poems with her paintings. Maria's artist's website is and her poetry website is

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