Sometimes I’m Blind-sided by Beauty

The flash and fire of trees flaring into autumn, the deep
Purple of African violets student gave me, the pattern
Of sun and shade on a brick wall, the blonde child sitting with
His family at a patio table at the hotel, the child whom I’ve
never seen before who turns to me and smiles.

 

How gratified I am for these moments. blessed and perfect
as a new moon, the stars, and the way they carry me
beyond all I’ve lost, the way I keep expecting you to be
there when I come home, the way I forget how empty
a house can be when no one we love is in it, how quiet it is
after years of nurse’s aides and handymen, years of your illness
with all its equipment-Hoya lifts and wheelchairs and urinals
and lift chairs and canes-packed into every room. It is almost

 

as though I am afraid of the rooms so perfect and empty, rooms
I pass through to answer the door or collect the mail, and the way
I glance sideways into the dining room, surprised each time to see
your bed and equipment are no longer there.

 

Sometimes I’m blind-sided by beauty, my breath caught
in my throat, my memory of your face bending toward me,
your face lit by lamplight on that corner of New York City,
your eyes that incredible gray-blue, the high cheekbones
of your face. For a moment you came back to me as you
were all those years ago, you walking with John in married
student housing at Rutgers, our son John, a year old
and wide-eyed, and you in your horn-rimmed glasses,
your Rutgers sweatshirt, you walking toward me.

 

Used by permission of the author.

Maria Maziotti Gillan

Maria Mazziotti Gillan is a recipient of the 2014 George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature from AWP (Association of Writers & Writing Programs), the 2011 Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award from Poets & Writers and the 2008 American Book Award for her book, All That Lies Between Us (Guernica Editions).

She is the Founder and Executive Director of the Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College in Paterson, NJ, and editor of the Paterson Literary Review. Maria Gillan is Bartle Professor and Professor Emerita of English and creative writing at Binghamton University-SUNY.

She has published more than twenty books of and about poetry, and has edited four anthologies. Her most recent book is When the Stars Were Still Visible (Stephen F. Austin University Press, 2021) Her poetry and photography collaboration with Mark Hillringhouse, Paterson Light and Shadow (Serving House Books) was published in 2017. The poetry collection, What Blooms in Winter was published by NYQ Books in 2016. Her collection of poems along with some of her paintings is The Girls in the Chartreuse Jackets (Redux Consortium). Other recent publications are Ancestors’ Song (Bordighera Press), Writing Poetry to Save Your Life: How to Find the Courage to Tell Your Stories (MiroLand, Guernica) and the bi-lingual poetry collection, In a Place of Flowers & Light (poems in English & Italian with a preface by Elisabetta Marino, edited by Osvaldo Marrocco (San Mauro and Mia Mama).

Her work has appeared in Prairie Schooner, New Letters, The New York Times, Poetry Ireland, Connecticut Review, The Los Angeles Review, The Christian Science Monitor, LIPS, and Rattle, and numerous other journals and anthologies.

Maria won the 2008 Chancellor’s Award for Scholarship and Creative Endeavor from Binghamton University, the 2008 Sheila Motton Award, Primo Nazionale Belmoro, the First Annual John Fante and Pietro di Donato Award, the Aniello Lauri Award, the May Sarton Award, the Fearing Houghton Award, New Jersey State Council on the Arts Fellowships in Poetry, and the American Literary Translators Association Award through a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. She received the New Jersey Governor’s Award for Literary Outreach and The Dare to Imagine Award from Very Special Arts.

Her poems have been read by Garrison Keillor on “The Writer’s Almanac.” She has been interviewed and read her poems on National Public Radio’s (NPR) “All Things Considered”, “The Brian Lehrer Show”, “The Poet and the Poem”, “The Leonard Lopate Show”, as well as “In Honor of National Poetry Month”, “The Charles Osgood Show” on CBS-Radio, also on Pacifica Radio, and the Voice of America. She has also been featured on several PBS-TV (Public Broadcasting System) programs. Her books have been chosen as Editor’s Choice by Booklist, New York Public library Book List, and one of the American Library Association’s Outstanding Books for Lifelong Learners.

Her poems are included on state and national tests in North Carolina, Tennessee, Minnesota, Texas, and Italy.

Maria has read her poems numerous times at universities, festivals, and poetry centers throughout the USA and in Italy, France, Yugoslavia, Finland, Wales, and Ireland.