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About this poet

Danusha Laméris was born in 1971 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She is the author of The Moons of August (Autumn House Press, 2014), selected by Naomi Shihab Nye as the winner of the 2013 Autumn House Press Poetry Prize. She lives in Santa Cruz, California, and teaches writing worskhops.

Bonfire Opera

In those days, there was a woman in our circle
who was known, not only for her beauty,
but for taking off all her clothes and singing opera.
And sure enough, as the night wore on and the stars
emerged to stare at their reflections on the sea,
and everyone had drunk a little wine,
she began to disrobe, loose her great bosom,
and the tender belly, pale in the moonlight,
the Viking hips, and to let her torn raiment
fall to the sand as we looked up from the flames.
And then a voice lifted into the dark, high and clear
as a flock of blackbirds. And everything was very still,
the way the congregation quiets when the priest
prays over the incense, and the smoke wafts
up into the rafters. I wanted to be that free
inside the body, the doors of pleasure
opening, one after the next, an arpeggio
climbing the ladder of sky. And all the while
she was singing and wading into the water
until it rose up to her waist and then lapped
at the underside of her breasts, and the aria
drifted over us, her soprano spare and sharp
in the night air. And even though I was young,
somehow, in that moment, I heard it,
the song inside the song, and I knew then
that this was not the hymn of promise
but the body’s bright wailing against its limits.
A bird caught in a cathedral—the way it tries
to escape by throwing itself, again and again,
against the stained glass.

Copyright © 2017 Danusha Laméris. “Bonfire Opera” originally appeared in The American Poetry Review. Used with permission of the author.

 

Copyright © 2017 Danusha Laméris. “Bonfire Opera” originally appeared in The American Poetry Review. Used with permission of the author.

 

Danusha Laméris

Danusha Laméris

Danusha Laméris was born in 1971 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She is the author of The Moons of August (Autumn House Press, 2014), selected by Naomi Shihab Nye as the winner of the 2013 Autumn House Press Poetry Prize. She lives in Santa Cruz, California, and teaches writing worskhops.

by this poet

poem

Did she know
there was more to life
than lions licking the furred
ears of lambs,
fruit trees dropping
their fat bounty,
the years droning on
without argument?

Too much quiet
is never a good sign.
Isn’t there always
something itching
beneath the surface?

poem

Out here, we read everything as a sign.
The coyote in its scruffed coat,
bending to eat a broken persimmon on the ground.
The mess of crows that fills the apple tree,
makes a racket, lifts off.
In between, quiet.
The winter fog is a blank.
I wish I could make sense
of the

poem

At night, my husband takes it off
puts it on the dresser beside his wallet and keys
laying down, for a moment, the accoutrements of manhood.
Sometimes, when he’s not looking, I pick it up
savor the weight, the dark face, ticked with silver
the brown, ostrich leather band with its little