When I Was Good, Still

It was a time when I was good to all

the world, a time when all the world still called

me good. The smoke from Ide’s kitchen mounts

        in my memory, the farmyard is


frosted over, the air, crystal, the river

embroidered with ice. I can still smell burnt

straw and dunghills and see the flurry of birds

        gusting from F.’s hedges —


see in the near dark the chapel haloed

in pink, the fields flat, beaten steel, shining —  

the sickle moon, hoisted on the horizon,

        blue mountains, their crests smudged


with crimson, the shades of sunset unstaunched,

as the light dims the glow from small yellow

lamps deepening, in my mind these images

        emerge in montage.


Everything found its sense, its eloquence

in the rose, in the blush of N.’s cheeks. N.,

head on my shoulder, N. shy, modest, still

        smelling of milk, N. revering


my every word … and so, in spite of

the bombings, in spite of the war it was

the fullest time in my life, it persists,

        the life within my life.

Poet, novelist and member of the renga group Yoko’s Dogs, Mary di Michele is the author of ten books including one of selected poems, Stranger in You, and the internationally published novel, Tenor of Love. These poems are from her latest project, The Flower of Youth: The Pasolini Poems, a novel in verse. She lives in Montreal where she teaches at Concordia University in the creative writing program.