Published on Academy of American Poets (

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.


Daniela Gioseffi

Daniela Gioseffi is the author of five poetry collections, most recently Blood Autumn/Autumno Di Sangue: Poems New and Selected (Bordighera Press, 2006), as well as several books of fiction, nonfiction, and translations.

Date Published: 2018-01-19

Source URL: