17 fragments with Sappho Mary D'Alleva Poetry

local_library 17 fragments with Sappho

by Mary D'Alleva

Published in Issue No. 245 ~ October, 2017

1) Sappho, one question I ask:

Is your tongue still yapping?
Even today our breasts explode
With rage.

The men boast to us
That they are masters of
The Forges—
Where is Ares when you need him?

2) Tonight I’ve watched

A bottle of wine
Descend then rise

How I wish
That time could make
A difference!

3) I watch purple
Folds of sky until
You walk through
The wall—

All the way from
Phocaea, bringing a gift:
The shadows of your cheeks

4) Last night

I dreamt of
Today’s words—
We have lost the art
Of pulling our skirts
Above our ankles:
I lament as easily
As shepherds trample
mountain hyacinth

5) Another question: are you still crying
Over that lost maidenhead?

6) Do you still talk to your
Virginity and did it keep its promise
To leave? Or
Has it returned, lonely
For your honey thighs?

7) The evening star

Will soon be covered
By smog

8) Wishing upon Venus

Will give you dirty dreams
Burning a she-goat
Will make them come true

9) In the spring twilight

The halo of bad decisions:
Girls take their places
On a variety of

10) Remember the herdsman?
He lives on today
Reaping the rewards of
Many generations
At how many windows must I wonder?
At how many did you?

11) And all your loves
And their loves
And my loves
Will gather together someday
And then the truth
Of Aphrodite’s treachery
Will come out! How shall
We make her pay?

12) There are scores
Of girls at windows
Will you call
For their bodies as they fall?

13) I hear that Aphrodite—

No longer torches hearts—
The job having been given
To a younger, more hip
Goddess of love

Oh young, hip goddess of love,

Do not ask for
Fat thigh bones
We dance to so many tunes
That our bones are brittle

14) Even the tattooed Gen X couples

Find themselves fighting
Over laundry.
I thought myself the only failed feminist.

15) But I stop at toenail polish.

Must every woman polish
Her toenails these days?
Why are burnt coral and
Embered red the colors of
Freedom. To me, they are pretty

16) Sappho, over the past centuries

Not much has changed.
We still hunger and struggle
Day in and day out. Can
You imagine the paradise
Of Lesbos no longer? I ask:

Did you ever truly exist?

17) Today ankles

Are invisible.
Would you still say longer
Skirts to be the answer?
We have come to enjoy the breeze
Licking its way up. Is this what
You felt, on the way down?

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Mary lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area. She holds an MFA from San Francisco State University where she drove her teachers crazy by not taking writing more seriously.