Tuesday, December 7, 2010

"Oubliette" by Angele Ellis

I discovered this intriguing poem from Angele Ellis' forthcoming chapbook, Spared, her second collection (the first being Arab on RadarYou can find an earlier post about her here.   There are some dazzling pieces; in one poem, a sonnet called "First Dawn in Costa Rica," she writes about her beloved's guilt over missing mass:

You could atone by climbing the steps of St. Ladislaus
on your knees--but now you are a communicant
of flesh, receiving benediction when you kneel over me.

Last week, I said to someone that "Christian sexuality" could be an oxymoron, but this poem proves otherwise.

The poem "Oubliette" struck me in part because of its formal structure, a stricture of metaphorical impact and force.  An "oubliette" is a dungeon whose only escape is from above--but the imagery of the poem also suggests the womb and religious transcendence. 

"Oubliette" by Angele Ellis

Before my eyes had sight, I felt a wall,
damp as a cheek, its tears all wept.
My cracking voice brought back no call
into the iron darkness where I slept.
But towards the roof, a rim of light,
bright outline of the eclipsed moon.
I traced this circle on the penciled night,
bracing myself against another moan.
And then--the sudden breaking blue
of freedom, and I climbed to you.


Maureen said...

Thank you for highlighting so beautiful a poem. I will look for her work.

Philip Metres said...

Thanks, Maureen, you're a faithful commenter! Much appreciated.