“Watching the Mayan Women” by Luisa Villani
Poetry 180: A Poem a Day for American High Schools, Hosted by Billy Collins, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2001-2003
Watching the Mayan Women
I hang the window inside out like a shirt drying in a breeze and the arms that are missing come to me Yes, it's a song, one I don't quite comprehend although I do understand the laundry. White ash and rain water, a method my aunt taught me, but I'll never know how she learned it in Brooklyn. Her mind has gone to seed, blown by a stroke, and that dandelion puff called memory has flown far from her eyes. Some things remain. Procedures. Methods. If you burn a fire all day, feeding it snapped branches and newspapers— the faces pressed against the print fading into flames-you end up with a barrel of white ash. If you take that same barrel and fill it with rain, let it sit for a day, you will have water that can bring brightness to anything. If you take that water, and in it soak your husband's shirts, he'll pause at dawn when he puts one on, its softness like a haunting afterthought. And if he works all day in the selva, he'll divine his way home in shirtsleeves aglow with torchlight.
from Hayden's Ferry Review, Issue 26, Spring
/ Summer 2000
Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
Copyright 2000 by Luisa Villani.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of Arizona State University from Hayden's Ferry Review, Issue 26, Spring / Summer 2000. Copyright 2000 by Luisa Villani. For further permissions information, contact Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287, (480) 965-9011, www.asu.edu
About the Poet
Luisa Villani (1964- ) is a poet and novelist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her poems have appeared in several magazines, including The New England Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and The Hiram Poetry Review.
Learn more about Luisa Villani at Famous Poets and Poems.