Poems by Luisa Villani

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Pictures of the Floating World

by Luisa Villani

From Canary Winter 2009-10

         – for Julia Butterfly Hill

Ukiyoe I remember to pronounce
by saying, you keep your “a”--
half-a-blessing a girlfriend offered me
in high school, the other half being:

out of trouble. My vulgarities keep me
intact, and ukiyoe is a vulgarity,
a form of painting shunned
by an Asian high court

because it depicted nothing important--trees
mostly, and land, grass, water--things
considered background, landscape.
Imagine then, in the foreground,

the one, who looking up,
saw not the carbon-paper night sky
with its much poked periods of stars
letting in, peephole after peephole

the bone-white light, like death,
behind all things. No. Instead, she saw
the occluding jigsaw of leaf shadows,
the living puzzle, and she said, No

this maze shall not die,
not here, not now. She hugged the hirsute
giant, named her “Luna,” then climbed
away from the sensible ground,

like Cosimo, the much bemused Baron
in an Italo Calvino novel,
who floated above his world,
until he made peace with all things

terrestrial. Julia had no such long-
term plans, no eye on her own
eternity, just on the eternity of a tree,
which she lived in,

for 738 days. Two years
of sleeping like a bent finger,
of the wind pouring by like destiny
twisting every possibility

and every possible branch.
Can I say I’ve gone as far
in that same period of time,
as the woman who sat still

and let trouble find her?

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