I. by an anonynous 12th Century Italian poet
Down the broad way do I go,
Young and unregretting,
rap me in my vices up,
Virtue all forgetting,
Greedier for all delight
Than heaven to enter in:
Since the soul in me is dead,
Better save the skin.
Sit you down amid the fire,
Will the fire not burn you?
Come to Pavia, will you
Just as chaste return you?
Pavia, where Beauty draws
Youth with finger-tips,
Youth entangled in her eyes.
Ravished with her lips.
II. by Rosaly DeMaios Roffman
You do not have to win prizes.
You do not have to fast in the woods
or have your sins whipped out of you.
You have only to understand how perfect
you are through your own imperfections.
what it means to keep your eyes on eyes,
what it means to let someone
speak to you without speaking.
Sing your sorrow and I'll sing mine
while the old moon and low mists
travel over the mountains; beach-plums
form new patches near the ocean,
barn swallows hang on wires overhead.
No matter how secret you are,
the world has room for your shasow,
for breathing, for the tree whispering–
whoever you may be this morning
pour yourself into a gold vessel
think of yourself as a barn swallow
making perect circles above the mimosa.
III. by Rosaly DeMaios Roffman
When I cut my finger with a knife,
I yell "My finger, my finger"
and I yell "knife, knife."
And I don't cry "husband"
And I don't cry "mother"
And I don't predict the end
of viola-playing in the park
or on the radio
When you hold my finger under water,
I cry "My finger, my finger"
and I cry "hold, hold" and "water, water"
and I don't call husband or mother
And I don't have dreams
of you bandaging fingers in heaven
or pouring glasses of water
for everyone in pain
or on the street
Whatever I yell or cry or dream
is only to reassure me I live:
knife, knife, hold, hold