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
VII. & VIII. & IX.
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
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.