Selected by Alexis Rhone Fancher, Poetry Editor

Anne Elezabeth Pluto: Three Poems


Dove gray farm weather
inside the house wearing
a sweater – summer solstice
now over – the days no longer
rain in the forecast – horses stamp
in the barn later – led out
to be saddled – my hair in my eyes
fog in the morning – rolls over
by the kitchen window holding
the luminous cups – waiting
for my father – asleep upstairs
beside my mother – the house
the house – its own silent entity
grandfather in the big garden
turning over the earth – grandmother
whispering to the icons – I am
dreaming, standing – parting the
curtains to see the dove gray fog lift
praying for sun – and the world
to roll over.


Brighton Beach Was Never Venice

for Lisa Levine


Green water – South pacific
or Adriatic – dream water
Grand Canal to Carnival.
the masks they wore were
not Made in Italy intermittent
Mother tender water masks
where they could not go – Brighton Beach
it beckons still – water wave
crashing save, still from the rocky
reef refuge – the teeming shoreline
left behind – an ocean supported
surrendered between two world
wars and a generation, lost
they swam with the fishes, watched
the man in white, who sold knishes
and fed us from their wedding
dishes – sea salty air and shoulders
bare – Brighton Beach
was never Venice.


I have been to Samarqand

for my father


Two years ago
May now as you made yourself
ready for death I wanted to
remain, relieve her of her duty
and be a good daughter.
You sent me home
to die with her

I have been to Samarqand
that final time
a journey by water
the dream geography more full
than life, the mosque, the church
the covered women singing
the Stations of the Cross
the goblin boat to take me back
by morning
I travel by train, north and walk
to the park, it’s hot and burning
to see the icons at the Met
to look into the eyes of each
and every opalescent Virgin
in the house of the father
she guides the souls in comfort to Samarra.
Her eyes
follow me, at home

I present you a gift
war traveler
who prayed
at every house of the father
St. Sophia’s in Kiev,
the Friday Mosque of Tashkent,
the Bucharian Synagogue on Sepyornaya Street
the tomb of the Prophet Daniel where his stolen
bones grow the stops along the bloody way
in Iran, Iraq, in Syria
then Lebanon, in Egypt
and Palestine,
in Bethlehem at the Church of the Nativity
where the Ottoman Turks
had made the doorways four feet high
to keep the wild horsemen out
to Jerusalem
where they meet God as three
a trinity of one almighty
city to destroy the houses of the father
a caravansary on the journey
backwards to Samarra
you put messages in the wall
went into the Holy Sepulcher
and stumbled along the Viva Dolorosa
saw the dome of the rock
where Mohammed rode
a winged stallion to Heaven
across the Mediterranean
in Monte Casino you protected
the mountain
then the monastery
and in Rome
lifted your face to the ceiling
of the Sistine Chapel.

Now hear
the word of God
as the pain goes through
you like hot lead
as your bones move
lengthwise into sleep upon the bed.
I have brought your last book
in prescience and redemption
in secret and in silence
open it, alone, look
study the compassionate
face of Mary
the distant face of Christ
the icons
we cannot escape
imprinted on us since
baptism, I hear you
pray and I pray too
for your life that spanned
the century
let the light hold fast
enter Hagia Sophia
the final house of the father
go then, backwards to Samarra
leave your shoes at the door
see Christ who never was
removed before your destiny
is achieved, explore.

A rise, and go
for the kingdom of Heaven
is upon you.



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