James Arlington Wright

(13 December 1927 – 25 March 1980 / Ohio)

Bologna: A Poem About Gold


Give me this time, my first and severe
Italian, a poem about gold,
The left corners of eyes, and the heavy
Night of the locomotives that brought me here,
And the heavy wine in the old green body,
The glass that so many have drunk from.
I have brought my bottle back home every day
To the cool cave, and come forth
Golden on the left corner
of a cathedral's wing:

White wine of Bologna,
And the knowing golden shadows
At the left corners of Mary Magdalene's eyes,
While St. Cecilia stands
Smirking in the center of a blank wall,
The saint letting her silly pipes wilt down,
Adoring
Herself, while the lowly and richest of all women eyes
Me the beholder, with a knowing sympathy, her love
For the golden body of the earth, she knows me,
Her halo faintly askew,
And no despair in her gold
That drags thrones down
And then makes them pay for it.

Oh,
She may look sorry to Cecilia
And
The right-hand saint on the tree,
But
She didn't look sorry to Raphael,
And
I bet she didn't look sorry to Jesus,
And
She doesn't look sorry to me.
(Who would?)
She doesn't look sorry to me.

She looks like only the heavy deep gold
That drags thrones down
All day long on the vine.
Mary in Bologna, sunlight I gathered all morning
And pressed in my hands all afternoon
And drank all day with my golden-breasted

Love in my arms.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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