From “Nymph”



     And three days later, out on the shore alone, she will 
     confuse the sound she hears coming down the mountain 
     with the mountain itself. (Understandably) She will note
     that sound exists only to parody our sense of mastery 
     over the earth. She will see an invisible web of birds 
     crossing the sky and know that she wants them more 
     than any happiness or love. 

     When the Venetians first arrived on this island, they thought 
     they could trade bits of glass with the Greeks for eternal 
     life. And although one thing replaced another, some women 
     did manage to escape unscathed. 

     She bends down, digs out a handful of frozen sand, tilts 
     her head back as far as she can, and fills her mouth, forcing 
     herself not to swallow.

     And although she will not remember any of this in the morning, 
     she will be convinced that with these actions, she has escaped 
     certain destruction. 

VII. & VIII. & IX.

                                      The Aegean
When you thirst for tin in the middle 
of the night, this is the Aegean 

When the damage in your body can be 
reduced to one sound, this is the Aegean 

When he wakes up and sees that you have 
marked him, this is the Aegean 

When all narrative is saturated, this is the Aegean

When he fucks you and you feel parts of yourself 
go missing, this is the Aegean 

When you finally realize language is not and has 
never been a currency, this is the Aegean 

When your hands stink like lamb fat and basil, 
this is the Aegean

When the little gods you pray to have smashed the 
last boat and you have no way of returning, 
this is the Aegean

When you nestle your head in his sex and 
he whispers that only you can make his cock shine 
by its own light, this is the Aegean

Ann Pedone

3 Questions for Ann

What was your process for creating this work?

These pieces are from a larger project entitled "Nymph": a book-length poem/quasi-play set on the island of Lesvos. I had originally intended to write an opera libretto about the Greek poet Cavafy, but somehow that turned into a play about a couple who spend a month in a house on the shore of the Aegean.

What is the significance of the form you chose for this work?

The larger project contains many different elements; for example, there are footnotes, as well as short almost prose pieces that are riffs of certain words that I pull out of the text. The two pieces here fall into the latter category.

What is the significance of this work to you?

None of my work is autobiographical; or, it's autobiographical in a very fluid sense; so there are elements here from my life, some of which are very personal; but there are also elements here that are completely fictional, and yet, in some strange way, I have discovered through working on this project, that sometimes the things we imagine about ourselves can be more real than the things that are actually "real"; or maybe they are things that will one day be real. That's the wonderful thing about writing; everything is up for grabs.

Ann is a poet and literary translator in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is the author of The Medea Notebooks (spring, 2023 Etruscan Press), and The Italian Professor’s Wife (Press 53), as well as the chapbooks The Bird Happened, perhaps there is a sky we don’t know: a re-imagining of sappho, Everywhere You Put Your Mouth, Sea [break], and DREAM/WORK. Her work has recently appeared in The American Journal of Poetry, Narrative, Chicago Quarterly Review, The Louisville Review, Gigantic Sequins, and Conduit. 

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