Erma Vassiliou, Lettera amorosa


My love,
in infinite starlight and puzzles
of sea murmurs we met when I saw you
we knew each other from our love, in our love
for our love
your body spelled the grounded ground
of the earth correctly
why now? why you?
there are answers that our lips risk not to say
life is arduous, a stone without a nostril
a speechless fish without gills
life is tying our hopes
on Odysseus’ masts
why now? we are longing to unseal our ears
with the heat that words convey
please remember me, I have always been yours
listen to the sirens of love bearing in me your child
in the pouch of time
listen to the cries of love offering you the rights of prophecy,
I recognise your past in me
outside your door, I swear,
no other transitive dreams will I have
than to love you
I am not Theophano
and poorly is my habit stitched
in fabrics of medieval meditated minutes
colours of nobility are thriving now on you
and here I am denuded of my memories and other loves
…resources begin and end with the taste of your kisses
a cheap material of a nunnery
expects my body to never tire
in what I bring you home
and here I am, my sovereign, my equal
I came through centuries
to keep your sperm in me
and here today my offspring calls you
through light and moons of bight
…and here I am
you lift me, see me naked a loner
remembering I am yours
like then, and every other now
has been forgotten

*From the book “Desire”, Owl Publishing, Melbourne 2016.


Erma Vassiliou arrived in Australia from her native Cyprus in 1987. She is a true child of the vast Greek diaspora, migrating with her family in 1952 to the then Belgian Congo in Africa and then being sent to Athens to study at Saint Joseph’s French school where she was immersed in the study of French language and literature. Since her arrival in Melbourne, she has published a prodigious body of work including poetry collections, short stories and an autobiography in three volumes – all in Greek. She also has a PhD in Linguistics and speaks many languages. This work is the first to be written in English and contains poems which are an outpouring of strong passion intermingled with irony and quick wit. Erma is what Antigone Kefala has called a ‘flamboyant’ poet, and Australian poetry should embrace new poets whose first language is not English.


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