Egyptian freighter, whining Arabic tunes,
muddy coffee over the galley name . . .
What explorers we are, testing the gangplank
of someone else’s ship.
On the wharf, Helen’s Bar:
she’s welcomed sailors in
for fifty years, manning the counter alone, upright
as a new bottle. Dog asleep
in a rocker, jukebox fat as a pope. Enter the swain
bearing his nightly gardenia, for her,
for her brandy glass.
We travel back
to my frostbitten garden, where you try
to harvest gourds by moonlight, filling the alley
with arias, you’re that drunk
and in love
with the impossible, I’m that drunk
and in love with some
idea of you, revenant
from another century:
when we turn to kiss,
the whole sea swarms between us.
Rosanna Warren is the author of one chapbook of poems (Snow Day, Palaemon Press, 1981) and four full-length collections: Each Leaf Shines Separate (W. W. Norton & Co., 1984), Stained Glass (Norton, 1993), Departure (Norton, 2003), and Ghost in a Red Hat (Norton, 2011). Fables of the Self: Studies in Lyric Poetry, a book of literary criticism, appeared from Norton in 2008. She edited and contributed to _The Art of Translation: Voices from the Field _(Northeastern University Press, 1989), and has edited three chapbooks of poetry by prisoners. With Stephen Scully, she translated Euripides’ Suppliant Women for Oxford University Press (1995). She has won fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, ACLS, The Ingram Merrill Foundation, the Lila Wallace-Readers’ Digest Fund, and the Cullman Center at the New York Public Library, among others. Stained Glass won the Lamont Poetry Award from the Academy of American Poets. She has won the Witter Bynner Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Lavan Younger Poets’ Prize from the Academy of American Poets, and the Award of Merit in Poetry from The American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2004. She was a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 1999 to 2005. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2004–2005 she was president of the Association of Literary Scholars and Critics. In 2009 she was appointed Secretary of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She is Hanna Holborn Gray Distinguished Service Professor in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago and a member of AGNI’s Advisory Board. (updated 5/2018)