USA | 2012
Michael Thomas Taren is an American poet and visual artist living in France. He is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His poems have appeared in Colorado Review, Poetikon, SUPERMACHINE and I.D.I.O.T. His book of poetry
WHERE IS MICHAEL was a 2010 finalist for the Fence Poetry Series. He also translates the poetry of Tomaž Šalamun and his translation have been published in 7 Poets, 4 Days, 1 Book (Trinity University Press, 2009), Slovene Sampler (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2008) and are accepted or published by Chicago Review, A Public Space, Poetry Review (UK), Fulcrum, Colorado Review, The Ninth Letter, Jubilat, Poetry London, Circumference and elsewhere.
For a long time
My mind assembled in a perfect order. My rhythms
Easily and naturally became the rhythms of
The household. The household where I was kept
And where I slept.
To feel oneself a master in the household
Of Baronessa Beatrice Monti della Corte Von Rezzori
Is the capital and sufferance of grace.
To possess in the extension of (true) nobility, nobility.
This may be all that one needs to recover
One’s significance and respond to the world again.
My encounter in Santa Maddalena was intimate
And utterly symbolic hyper-maturation, a re-enabling.
There was a kindness of manners, a wholeness,
That seemed so proper as to strike one as fittingly eternal, and utterly “real.”
In an atmosphere that made rarified all anxiety
And difficulty, the principal matters, so latent
And ancient, rose to a kind of limpid surface, a place of affirmation
And synthesis, and stayed
From day to day, generously.
All quiet was joy and all speech was joy.
Food tasted good. Everything felt good and right.
In such a space of care and embrace
One is grateful and everything good is noticed.
Even if it’s not true always
For these days, one might say and believe, that
Life is to be enjoyed. Here one
Feels brilliant and good and warm
Even as a non-Italian speaking spectator of Italian conversation.
The air is pure health. Breathing it makes one
Healthy and it contains some much else
Besides oxygen. Though neither remote, nor
Narcotically lulling, in Donnini, at Beatrice’s house, one’s capacity
For diversions narrows to a proper and
Manageable and fulfilling breadth.
How good that the need for recovery, as an idea, articulated
Itself at the moment when it was already underway, in rhapsody.
Erroneously or not, I felt I could generate ideas
That might survive the tumult of many collapses and many futures.
The kind of focus, the gestation given here is not inevitable
But is totally necessary. And that is the greatness of Santa Maddalena.