Joyce Wilson

Afternoon Prayers at the Maronite Chapel in Beirut

We'd been to the Archdiocese before
To ask about the lost ancestral homes
That the grandparents of my husband left behind
While young, when they had barely come of age.
The folks we met in offices and halls
Misunderstood, it seemed, how old we were,
That we were seeking information from
Not World War Two, but One. At last a clerk
Suggested going to the mountains where

Existing village churches might have saved
Recorded documents of births and deaths
From ravages of time and civil wars.
That day, I saw the note for services
At four o'clock, and so went back to slip
In through the chapel door, where worshipers
Were few, and old. More women there than men,
Who must have been at work, or timing out,
As was my husband, who would meet me soon.

For this service at mid-week, between seasons,
The space was much like chapels everywhere,
The wooden beams, maybe maple or oak,
With nave and pews, an elevated stage,
Communion table, golden tabernacle.
In the middle of an empty row I sat
Apart, to show respect and deference
For form, the ritual and theater,
As if I knew what I was doing there.

The priest stepped back; the women led the chant.
Their voices droned in wild robust lament.
Although the syllables in Arabic were strange,
I still could sense the universal prayer
To Mary Mother of God, "Salweh Marie."
The moody, thrumming sounds reached out to her
Who, having lost a son, could transform grief,
Today and at the hour of all our deaths,
Into a blessing, whole and tangible.

The resonating echo of their chant,
Its humming like cicadas in the fields
Where grass is cut and gathered into sheaves,
Is sung by those who live as if already dead,
To hover closer to pragmatic need
Than much of what we listen to at home,
The bouncy hymns against New England night,
To join the rituals of death to life
And savor loss before our loss of sight.

Lamartine in Lebanon

"Autour de ces vieux témoins des âges écoulés, qui savent l’histoire de la terre mieux que l’histoire elle-meme." --- Alphonse de Lamartine

By traveling across the Middle East,
He sought to find the brilliant colors of
That great poem he had in mind, his life,

Beset by doubts and old perplexities
He’d born since childhood, he hoped, abroad,
That they’d be solved, untangled, and explained,

The way our dreams at night illuminate
Those oddities and thoughts we hold by day.
And his enthusiasm found the key

In these great monuments of nature, cedars
Named in passages Ezekiel
Described and set forever in our minds,

Whose fronds of evergreen King Solomon
Had picked to decorate the temple walls
Where first he celebrated the One God.

These trees, as witnessed by the Arab scribes,
Were sensitive to seasons and the snow,
Reaching up at change of temperature

And wide to offer shade for wanderers
Of many creeds from human races past
Who spoke the name of God in different tongues.

What they might tell, if only they could speak!,
Of conversations held from age to age
And whispered in the shelter of their shade.

While bearing close the loss of a daughter, he
Got down beneath one great majestic grove
And knelt in place to weep on hallowed ground.

He pressed himself against the history
Unspoken in the thing, its darkest core,
Where silence deepened in a hidden spring.


Joyce Wilson has taught English at Suffolk University and Boston University. She is creator and editor of the magazine on the Internet, The Poetry Porch, which has been on-line since 1997. Her poems have appeared in many literary journals, among them Alabama Literary Review, Poetry Ireland, and Salzburg Poetry Review. Her first poetry collection The Etymology of Spruce and a chapbook The Springhouse both appeared in 2010. Her new chapbook The Need for a Bridge appeared in March 2019, and a second full length collection Take and Receive was published in May 2019.


Hilary Biehl
Judith Grey
Mureall Hebert
Jen Karetnick
E. R. Lutken
Marjorie Maddox
Diane Lee Moomey
Samantha Pious
Barbara Sabol
Wendy Sloan
Myrna Stone
J. C. Todd
Paulette Turco
Elaine Wilburt
Joyce Wilson


This issue of Mezzo Cammin is also dedicated to its Founder and Managing Editor for 15 years, Dr. Kim Bridgford (1959-2020). [Photo: Marion Ettinger].

The 2021 Poetry by the Sea conference was canceled due to COVID-19. The next conference is planned for May 24-27 2022.

Nicole Michaud: Throughout history, both women and fruit have been popular and enduring subjects for paintings. Women are referred to as the earth in which man plants a formed seed, distancing women from their capacity as creator. Rather, women engaging in procreation utilize the male 'pollen' to create and grow the embryonic seed of future generations.

From the Nariphon of Buddhist mythology (literal fruits shaped as women's bodies and absent bones) growing from the Makkaliphon tree, to the pomegranate of Greek mythology and the apple (or fig) of Judeo-Christian writings, women and fruit have been inextricably linked for millennia. Fruit is the basis of the temptation and fall from grace of Adam and Eve in the Bible, and serves as a treacherous precursor to conflict in mythologies such as the Greek golden apple's role in beginning the Trojan War. Women's bodies and body parts are often compared to apples, pears, melons, lemons, and other fruit. This association and dehumanization of women has facilitated an enduring mistreatment, ownership, and underestimation of capacity.

Inside, transformations are happening.

32 Poems
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