Organs and Blood
Villa La Massa and its sovereign view
of summer heat, the Arno shimmering
in its slow move from hills to town
and we admired how the swallows skim
their own reflection in the stream,
their wings untouched by water
and you expressed concern at this great cost
of energy against small gain –
a tiny insect against power lost
in that great swoop and up again –
angling to find your answers in
the Bibled God who watches all
and I reminded you He sees
the sparrow fall but does not catch
its plummet to uncaring soil.
Later in town we saw a truck parked on the wrong side of the street,
white, with red writing on its unforgiving walls:
SANGUE e ORGANI
a curbside hospital,
dispenses and receives, hacks out,
its grim collateral
Again on the carved terrace as I watched
geese float against the rivers’s flow,
the troubled sky for some time holding back
its rain, and listened as a single church bell cut
the hour in half and then again made whole.
I wondered if the answer was
the fish that leaps
out of the water to recall
the gnat to its own darkness
as we all must feed.
I watched a movie made before I was,
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers gliding to
Let’s face the music and dance
and you, under false light in another room,
just home from the hospital,
your right side gone, what’s left unable
to hold you, your deep voice snagged
to a whimper, limbs stretched on the hard
plastic of a hospital bed inherited
from a dead woman. And sitting there
I was swept into the smooth
sway and leap of the dance,
swung into the song’s
trouble and teardrops.
Later, Charlie Chaplin came on,
Monsieur Verdoux knocked at the blade
Of the guillotine without regret,
and Hitchcock’s birds plunged to their prey
and did not allow vertigo to interrupt them.
Fear trails disaster like an ardent admirer
to the grand finale of despair.
In the old movies, there is always The End
To let you know it is over.
Jean Hollander’s first book of poems, Crushed into Honey, won the Eileen W. Barnes Award. Her second collection was a winner in the QRL Poetry Book Series. Her third book, Organs and Blood, has just been accepted for publication. Her verse translations of Dante’s Inferno and Purgatory were published by Doubleday, with Paradise scheduled for this fall.