The Dead of Winter

Mary Jo Bang

The cold is a knife-slice on the skin.The heart says no, over and over.This is not what you want.What you want is that plush crimsonblanket called love: the pulsingblood-rush that provokesa minimetamorphosis. An object,held by a gaze, radiating being.You would say passion but a demonhas sewn your lips shut. The silverneedle lies there like the meltingsunlit snow beneath your feet.It looks up as if to ask, Tell me, howoften do you feel the way you feel?

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Mary Jo Bang is the author of nine books of poems—including A Film in Which I Play Everyone, A Doll for Throwing, and Elegy, which received the National Book Critics Circle Award. She has published translations of Dante’s Inferno, illustrated by Henrik Drescher, Purgatorio, and Colonies of Paradise: Poems by Matthias Göritz. She teaches at Washington University in St. Louis. Her translation of Paradiso will be published by Graywolf Press in 2025.

Summer 2023

Charlottesville, Virginia

University of Virginia

Paul Reyes

Publisher & Executive Editor
Allison Wright

Poetry Editor
Gregory Pardlo

From its inception in prohibition, through depression and war, in prosperity and peace, the Virginia Quarterly Review has been a haven—and home—for the best essayists, fiction writers, and poets, seeking contributors from every section of the United States and abroad. It has not limited itself to any special field. No topic has been alien: literary, public affairs, the arts, history, the economy. If it could be approached through essay or discussion, poetry or prose, VQR has covered it.

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