Beyond the East Gate

I listen to the voice of the cricket,
loud in the quiet night,
warning me
not to mistake a hill for a mountain.

I need to be alone,
in a private house with doors that open only outward,
safe from strangers who smell of death,
where I can draft a universe under my eyelids
and let nothing invade it.

I want to sing a fugue
sounding like the genius of flowers
talking to leaves on their stems,
to have more concrete meaning
than even the dance of a child in my uterus.
I'm a lost and primitive priestess
wandering in a walled city of the wrong century.
I need to spend thirty years in the desert
before I will understand the sun,
thirty years at sea
to gather the blessing of salt and water.

In the back room of my skull
a secret dice game determines
the rites of my hands
before they touch flesh again.
I want to reach a peace I've never known,
to be an old woman who is very young,
a child who is a sage
come down from the mountain.


Copyright © 1977 by Daniela Gioseffi. “Beyond the East Gate” originally appeared in Eggs in the Lake (BOA Editions, 1977). Used with permission of the author.