Allison Seay (CRF 2013), part of the CRF Advisory Council, earned an MFA in poetry from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2005. Her honors include publication in such journals as Crazyhorse, the Southern Review, Meridian, Arts and Academe, and Pleiades. Her first book manuscript is under consideration and was a semi-finalist for Tupelo Press’s First/Second Book Award. She worked for several years at UNC Greensboro, as assistant director of the MFA Program and associate Editor of the Greensboro Review.
My time at Civitella Rainieri has been one of the most important times of my life, not only as a writer, but as a human being alive in the world. I feel more alive if not reborn, renewed, and trust my work will be stronger because of that—perhaps not right away, perhaps it will take a lifetime to digest this experience. When I first arrived I was too overwhelmed to write a poem, to do anything but stare out of my window or walk around in a kind of dream. But by the second week I had a fairly regular schedule and a luxury of hours to read, write, and think about poems. While I did produce several new poems, the most writing I did here has been in the form of a hybrid travel journal, which has consumed me. In it I have recorded the food I have eaten, the flowers I have seen, the birds, bits of conversation, things I have learned about the walled cities around me, anything I can remember from the long day. I like to think that some of this rather maniacal documenting of experience will translate into poems eventually. There is almost too much beauty here to bear. The largest part of my days has been spent trying to manage the joy, to memorize the beauty, to write it down before it vanishes.
The Invisible Him
We spent all day walking in circles around the shallow pond
watching fish pluck from the surface the bloated bread,
the wild geese measuring a safe distance.
I dreamed last night (all my life)
of this not extraordinary day
and like others sometimes will admit
I did not know how much I loved
until it was gone abruptly.
It is not that I think we can all live forever
but that we should never die.
There is a difference.
For example it is the difference when
the fog at dusk confuses what is pond and what is bank,
confuses the moving from the still, confuses even
where my sadness could be
lost inside the crepuscular light.
I am certain where it was inside him—
the living tumor
a sadness in the liver.
If I concentrate painfully
I can almost see the impossible
invisible him, see through the burial mound of grass
and moss and sedum and through the slate and soil
through the roots and further
down down to the blue veins down
even to the vermillion border of his thin little lips
down to the internal (eternal) him
the despicable organs.
I say you were betrayed
the whole pointless thing is never over
and it is always a living death sure as I am
now (as I was not then)
some things do last infinitely—
it was love
though I did not have this voice to say it.