Sonnet Cycle: Orpheus in Siena

In the dark chapel of Saint Catherine,
In the Basilica of Dominic,
An image that seems pagan, hints of sin--
Is patterned in the pavement, like a trick,
A puzzle I must solve. Itís Orpheus,
Naked, holding the mirror, looking lost
(As I am, on this tour. They say our bus
is coming soon. I linger with arms crossed.)
His Eurydice is dead--he killed her twice.
The woman always suffers for a glance--
He broke the rules of hell; she paid the price.
Her independence never stood a chance,
As Orpheus could not resist one look
At Eurydice--the last he ever took.

The woman always suffers for a glance,
I think, while standing in this sacred place,
My feet on pagan pavement, pensive stance,
Eyes lowered to the ground. I wait for grace
To help me understand why on this floor
That decorates a prayer-spot (in a church,
A chapel that helps pilgrims to adore
Saint Catherine), the mythic-godís great search
For his dead wife is salvaged--to exalt?
The woman always suffers for a glance--
I think of Lotís wife turning, turned to salt,
And Eve eyeing the apple, red romance
Of shining skin and stem and flesh and bite
That Adam shares with her, alone, at night.

The Maenads tore off Orpheusí head,
And sent it floating, singing to the sea.
The mouth refused to pause. Though it was dead,
It had not spoken all its poetry.
The woman always suffers for a look,
It sang, even when man has turned to see.
Eurydice, Eve, Lotís wife, Persephone--
(The wife of Hades whom he grabbed and took
Simply because she stared him down one day).
No doubt that women have their share of faults.
But for too long, they havenít had their say.
And severed in Saint Dominicís deep vaults
(Detached, mystical body quiet, far),
Saint Catherineís head sits boldly, windowed star.

Lipogram for a Library Missing 1 Part
        An Apology for Inclusion Of E(veryone)

Shhh. Hush. This is a library. All words
(Or many, anyway) can sit, unwind
As minor sounds and script, and flighty birds
Will flap, unbound, outdoors, waiting to bind
Phonics of longing to a manuscript
Which will not banish that fifth symbol's form
(A sound that drags a mouth into a crypt
To bury ooh and aah!). And with a storm,
Watch. Frantic words will hurry into books
Looking to harbor, sit, cool down, and stay.
Though many will not grant a passing look,
Poor fools will always cling to such bound strays.
But just commit to mind this basic fact--
Discrimination cuts--to stay intact.

Sonnet for a Studio

Easel, thin neck stretching like an egret,
The charcoal dust that clings and covers skin,
Undersketch, a painting's tattooed secret,
A still-life: all of these things live within
The studio--a stark and sacred space:
A hospital, a birthing room, a church--
I come to it when I am seeking grace,
And even when I'm tired of the search,
My art class is unfailingly well-timed.
I like the rush that follows the restraint--
My palette ready, canvas stretched and primed
And when the time has finally come to paint--
My brush bristles with color, builds the bones
Of new form--sacred light, and temporal tones.


Annabelle Moseley is a teacher and poet-in-residence at The Stevenson Academy of Fine Arts in Oyster Bay, New York. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in such journals as The Texas Review, The Seventh Quarry, The New Formalist, and The Lyric, among others. Birnham Wood Graphics published her first chapbook, The Moon Is A Lemon, in 2005, and Street Press published her second chapbook, Artifacts of Sound, in May 2007. In 2006, Moseley won five Writerís Digest poetry awards. Visit Annabelle Moseley's website.


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Judith Taylor: No one seems to disagree with me when I say there's something compelling about these images. Maybe it's because we're so inundated by the media with narrative that is manipulated and inflated that these honest little private struggles to say something touch us at the core. The eye with which we see them now is not the eye of the young writer, and that distance is interesting, surprising. Maybe the connection between the adolescent girl and the adult woman, or the diary page and the studio wall, is closer than I think.
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