Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Arpil Snow by Oriana Ivy

Oriana Ivy’s book of poems April Snow won the New Women’s Voices Prize in Poetry in 2011.

She deserved that prize, and plenty of others as well. 

Re-reading it the book this morning, I was again touched by her gifts.

Here’s the blurb I wrote for her book when it first came out:

Oriana Ivy is the best kind of poet.  She writes about things that matter – family and work, love and the past, nature and history – in a way that always sounds honest, never tired or familiar.  Read her.  She’s got an ear for language and an eye for image that make her poems as irresistible as joy and kindness.

Every word is still true.  Maybe truer.

Here are a couple of the poems from her book that I especially liked.


One day in the street my grandmother
stops before another grandmother.
Both stammer: “It’s you –
you – in Auschwitz – ”

Turning to me: “She and I shared
the same blanket. Every night she said,
‘You’ve got more than I’
and pulled, and I pulled back,

and so we’d tug across the bunk – ”
And the two grandmothers laugh.
In the middle of a crowded
sidewalk, in old women’s dusk,

widows’ browns and grays,
they are laughing like two schoolgirls –
tears rain down the cracked
winter of their cheeks.

On Piotrkowska Avenue,
on the busiest street,
they are tugging that thin blanket.
They are pulling back.


It’s not the country I miss.
I miss the poplars
lining the long avenue,
leafy perspective I loved to trace

from my fourth-story window,
past Cemetery of the Russian Soldiers
all the way to the airport.
The avenue was named

after the first aviators.
uncle Gienio, killed in air battle
over france, was an aviator,
smiling from his biplane,

fading in a sepia photograph.
To his little sister, my mother,
he said, “We’ll fly around the world.”
I stood in each window,

walked out every door –
daydreamed on all bridges, dazed
with departure’s nets of light. I too
wanted to fly around the world.

At seventeen, you don’t ask
the price. In a sepia October,
I left. Behind me swayed
Warsaw poplars,

tree by tree bowing back.
Shadows laced my hands,
the passing leaves
rustled warnings I didn’t hear –

long perspective of poplars,
upward arms burned to gold –
behind me an endless
avenue of gold wind. 


The book is available from Amazon.  

She blogs about art, writing, psychology, God, myth, and poetry at her blog Oriana-Poetry.  

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