Back to Issue 11

by Gabriella Fee 


            After Mosaico di Giustiniano, basilica di S.Vitale

Let play Justinian
     on accordion,
     ribbed, Etruscan   
     containing rancor,
accord, and other
     red letter fragments
of pastoral life —
     stars seen through
an aster, astral
     trail across
cathedral ceiling,
     sealing mortar
and a million
     shards of gold
and blue glass.
     Let play the whole
late Roman band:
     censor, clergy,
cross, and gospel,
     Christ conducting,
     from cerulean orb.

A vault, a veer,
     a trilling chord,
while elsewhere
     (Ostragoth or
Byzantine?) boar-
     hound chases boar
around a chipped
     enamel cloud.
Let play the city’s
     patterned howl
emerging from
     a hole the size
of an incisor.
     Amorous clamor
obscuring the shy
     lyric I: Io,
as in that distant,

     dense, volcanic
moon, one glint
     among many —
a tessera cemented
     in tidal lock
like terracotta tiling
     in San Vitale’s
apse. In situ
     (how loud!) symbol’s
cymbal sounds.


Gabriella Fee’s poetry has appeared in or is forthcoming from Guesthouse, Sprung Formal, The Wellesley Review, Levee Magazine, and The American Literary Review, where her poem won the 2019 Prize for Poetry. She is a graduate of Wellesley College, and recipient of the 2021 Elizabeth K. Moser Fund for Poetry Studies Fellowship from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University, where she is an MFA candidate.