Grade A: Beatrice

Written in Albuquerque (Terrace SE), November 2006.  I was telling the story of Dante and Beatrice to my Humanities class and suddenly got sick of this, well, abuse of a girl who was probably quite ordinary.  Most people I’ve ever fallen in love with have been!  Published in my books The Hardest Thing and Wings of the Gray Moon, and in the local zine Central Avenue.

Beatrice

 

She was probably like other girls,

Dante’s ten thousand stanzas notwithstanding.

She probably did spot the sickly boy in the street

but it wouldn’t have occurred to her she caused the sickly.

When she smiled at him,

that was manners,

when she gave him the cold front,

she had her period that day.

More than anything she thought about clothes,

giggled at the idea of bodyparts

with her nastier girlfriends.

She went to church,

but to study the fine women’s intricate hairdos,

not because any kind of paradise

was her real home.

To such a wisp

theology’d just be scary.

And so would poetry.  And rightly.

She knew how she was supposed to act

when the sun came out, when the snow came down,

and how she liked to act.

She married, as far as we know,

obeying her parents,

and she died, we do know this,

still teenaged,

obeying her God.

A Christian child

but a child.

Love kept outside of her probably,

respecting her play,

her silence.

She never found out her silence had been broken

these seven hundred years.

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