Friday, December 20, 2013

about Wrexie Bardaglio's poem "Baltic"

I had posted this poem on my blog over a month ago. I want to say something about it.

This poem meets my four personal criteria for a real poem, what is required for the possibility of a good poem -- comprehensibility, imagination, otherness, epiphany.

Today, I want to focus on one thing -- comprehensibility. And not just the overall comprehensibility. Today, I want to zoom in on a specific aspect -- how this poem opens by situating the reader in an actual somewhere, which is an act of authorial hospitality. The poem's later flight of imagination is enhanced by this earlier grounding in particular coordinates. 


Night deep black outside, 
Stars blinding in the dome of heaven, 
South of Lake Ontario, and Canada, beyond. 
Wind moans around old cornices 
Comes blowing from the northeast, 
Brings a vision so mysterious, time and place a blur, 
Wind susurrating sibilance into feeling, then to words. 

From across the fearful maritime, 
Across the North Atlantic, 
Where steppes roll deep and frigid 
Into vast and nothingness 
The gypsy wraps her fringed shawl tight, 
Clasps a volume of her verses, 
Words on desiccating pages, 
She’s been writing all the evening 
In the small hut’s candlelight.
She hurries toward the fireplace glow
That flickers through the window 
From a cottage on the shore; 
Lonely on the "zinc-gray" Baltic 
Brodsky pours some vodka there,
And there they read together, 
The frozen world forgotten, 
In their rich and blending tones
Reading verses in a language 
I do not know but understand.

I’m organic in this fabric I created out of nowhere, 
Their stanzas transcending my prosaic here and now, 
And as quickly as it came to me, 
That slice of life from somewhere 
Long ago and just imagined 
Dissolves into the curling wind,
Fringed shawl no longer tangible, 
Dark eyes shuttered, voices quiet, and 
The battered covers closed. 

The firelight fades, the hearth grows cold,
And real although it was for some long and 
Vibrant moments, Brodsky’s dead, his gypsy vanished, 
With nothing left but timelessness,
Visitation inexplicable and fading.
Outside now the wind picks up, 
As I strain to hear faint tolling bells 
From an old church on some far and blown cold shore, 
And coming from the Maritimes, 
I pause, I sniff the air 

The memory smells of salt.

Copyright © 2013, Wrexie Bardaglio


  1. "I’m organic in this fabric I created out of nowhere,
    Their stanzas transcending my prosaic here and now"

    and so she is, and they do--I'm spellbound, breath-taken by this poem. Yes, there is that tangible anchor, but this read was launched into her vision almost immediately, nudged by the strong use of nouns--(she conjures the wind!), delicately constructed lines, and careful, descriptive narrative. I found myself reaching for the "dessicated pages", enchanted by her heroine, and, when the poem had unfortunately come to its end, it was with a satisfying sigh. (Perhaps that is my word for "epiphany" today.