A Candle from Rome, Italy (2003)
the reason why I never lit the wick before nowpollinated pistil of a tiger lily thick with waxpetals of bright orange & burnt yellow & almost alive eleven years agoon the way to the Pantheon I purchased a candleat an artisan's stand in an ancient square called Campo de' Fioriwhere Giordano Bruno burned at the stake for watching the stars& acting out the art of memorymy father stared there at the bronze statue & wept without wordsmy sister & I watched my father weep at the feet of an old martyrmy father would not weep like that againuntil he held my sister's hands while she was seizingI watched him weeping while my sister was seizingwe held hands
“A Candle from Rome, Italy (2003)” from LIKE WE STILL SPEAK: by Danielle Badra.
Published by The University of Arkansas Press 2021.
Copyright © 2021 by Danielle Badra.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Danielle Badra is a queer Arab American poet who was raised in Michigan and currently resides in Virginia. Her poems have appeared in Guesthouse, Mizna, Cincinnati Review, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, and elsewhere. Her first full-length collection, Like We Still Speak, was selected by Fady Joudah and Hayan Charara as the winner of the 2021 Etel Adnan Poetry Prize and is published through the University of Arkansas Press.
“In this dreamlike and haunted debut, Danielle Badra fulfills what Allen Grossman considers poetry’s highest calling—to resist the disappearance of the beloved. Badra remembers and dialogues with her deceased sister Rachal and her own poetic lines in this testament to the persistence of spirit—a kind of resurrection poetics in which loss and life, onion and honey, sister and self commingle on the tongue. ‘The world opens up to you / between gypsum and jasmine. [. . .] Your body is a fugitive of always.’”
—Philip Metres, author of Shrapnel Maps and Sand Opera
“Perhaps all true elegies are written as though the dead were somehow just out of earshot and alive to answer. Certainly, Danielle Badra insists on still listening to her sister. By incorporating her sister’s poems into her own, Badra embodies a loss that lives on as half her voice. Across the gap between the living and the dead these powerful poems pass, fragmentary intimacies that through quotation and repetition accrue into shared ritual and healing song. Out of family, memory, and poetry a new, collaborative self emerges, and new love flares full of its true luminosity and danger. ‘Incandescent, / a star is both light and bomb.’”
—Brian Teare, author of Doomstead Days