Two poems by Julie Irigaray

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    Bologna

 

A terracotta forest of distorted towers: 
medieval Manhattan where Dante wandered.

Madonnas nestled at the corner of each via: 
mounds of sacred hearts, altars of salted tears.

The manganese facades of palaces 
and porticoes with faded frescoes.

The embalming smell of a leather-bound book 
and the one diffused via a perfumed oil lamp.

The anarchists Copernicus and Vesalius 
stepping out in the university quarter.

I chose to retreat within these open walls 
to live for my art.

 


 

    Tiresias and Moses

 

Believers go to the church of San Pietro in Vincoli 
to worship the manacles and chains of Saint Peter, 
the secular to admire Michelangelo’s Moses.

When we visited it, the alarm was a strident swift’s cry. 
Beyond the barrier protecting the statue, a man 
with sunglasses was touching Moses’ knee 
under the guard’s guidance. She was suspicious 
of the intrigued visitors staring at them. 

But the blind man’s smile was worth it.

Of course he couldn’t notice the controversial 
horns on Moses’ head, nor that the statue was sweating light 
despite having the complexion of a smoker’s lungs – 
yet he could feel the genius in the prominent veins, 
the details of the fold, the smoothness of polished marble. 

So the man was radiant because he had the privilege 
to caress a masterpiece and to come back home 
with a perception of Moses no other tourist had.

 
 

Julie Irigaray

About Julie Irigaray

Julie Irigaray's work has appeared in various international publications (US, UK, Ireland, Canada, Mexico), including Southword, Shearsman, Mslexia, Tears in the Fence, and Ink, Sweat & Tears. She has recently been selected as one of the fifty 'Best New British & Irish Poets 2018' (Eyewear), won second prize in the 2018 Winchester Writers’ Festival Poetry Competition, and was shortlisted for the 2017/18 New Poets Prize, the 2018 Mairtín Crawford Award and The London Magazine Poetry Prize 2016. More details here: www.julieirigaray.com.