Flawless as Lemon Meringue Pie, Venus’ Fingernails and Lipstick
I call myself Andromina—endlessly
mounted, unflinching and pursued,
my flower flowering—petals unfurl,
then drift, alighting here and there.
My gorgon-self self-immolates
tong, gong and fang, blameless feathers
flaming—coarse oxygen, primal as the lick
of a Bunsen burner. My mind runs rampant.
Thoughts—dragonflies of thought—dart,
their neon needles swift and forsaken.
What am I but a beast, crouching here
tethered. My longing little more
than self-loathing, rife with regret.
What lawless machinery I am, wild metallic
married to patient comfort. My ten thousand
thousand cells knit into a jacquard weave—
three graces worth in more than a million places.
My lovely limbs, each tucked trick, waft
the aroma of jasmine, honeysuckle, cookie dough,
white Russian on the rocks, masking
my unspeakably lewd-lawless coursing thoughts.
I put on my best frock and flounce
to meet my john while my god, my unmaker,
smiles and nods. There I am reflected
in the pinprick of his eye.
Review by Massimo Fantuzzi
I call myself, I define myself, I decide for myself. From the first line the intentions are clear: a song of assertion that takes a hit at everything that is commonly/stereotypically associated with womanhood.
But things aren’t that easy: on this path of unveiling and professing her truth the woman walks alone. Like her john, I speak and read a different language. Even her god still plays at undoing all her efforts, silencing her truth: on this side, we only see what we want to see, reflected, in the pinprick of our eyes, a mere projection.
In writing a review for this poem, I felt I couldn’t own, let alone channel, the same irony, anger or claims: no john ever could. As I was about to give up, I came across this 1909 poem from Amalia Guglielminetti. I’d like to submit it to your attention because I think complements Dale’s work, and creates an imaginary dialogue between sisters, in that unique secretive code that only sisters share, a dialogue that johns like me can only listen to in silence.
My voice is not the roar of the sea
Or a deep echo through flights of columns;
Rather it murmurs – a rustle of skirts
Whispering female grudges.
I did not want to sing, I wanted to speak,
To speak about myself and all those women
Whose countless wishes arouse their sleepless hearts
And leave them with mildly bitter lips.
And bitter too is my voice at times,
Almost quivering with a smile of irony,
More biting to the speaker than the listener.
As when we entrust to a friend
Some melancholy secret,
Afraid that she will smile at it.