Vana Manasiadis
New Zealand

Karakia Precari - Penny Howard 2016
Day 14

1. Homeric Hymn V, Fragment 2, Song of Solomon 3:6, Journal of Psychopharmacology

(Anonymous, Sappho,  Anonymous, various, 700BCE - 2012)

She is seated inside a temple         fragrant with incense     
she has taken charge of the rocky citadel       Here to me from Krete    
where is your graceful grove          is that coming up
from the wilderness        like columns of smoke       Incensole acetate    
reduces depressive-like behavior of submissive animals

2. Essays on the Anatomy of Expression in Painting (Charles Bell, Longman et al.,1806)

Surgeon-anatomist-theologian        brought up by his mother
prepared to amputate limbs        (The Battle of Waterloo: 'His clothes
were stiff with blood')         Tough times        though he wrote essays  
visited Bedlam        painted Moody Madness       Theology+art theory=human
facial muscles        Bell declared: [the painter] will have the idea of what is to be
depicted        if he reads the history of melancholia      
which in early times has given the idea of one possessed by a spirit

3. The Rising of Lazarus after Rembrandt (Vincent van Gogh, 1890, oil on canvas)

Lazarus, you are waking        but Jesus has got nothing to do with this
van Gogh has cut him out        So you are waking and you are rising
weary grey-wasted        lead folds performing weight        And in the middle
of a wheat field         and under sun: basic and flat        And what of the two moirologises?
Sisters daughters: one sits hunched at the foot of you        face shaded
pleats pairing with the rocks        The other has raised her arms in alarm
Κι εγώ ποτέ δε θα μπορούσα να τρομάξω        The terror:        what is she saying?
She could just as well suffocate you with her scarf as help you up


1  I burned livani1 in every room: over your side of the bed, over the stove, where you sat on the veranda, over the bathroom mirror where you fussed over your hair, applied lipstick, and tried to darken eyebrows (which, after the Bell's palsy, had lost their symmetry). 2 I've been thinking about your hands, how smooth and young-looking they were, how much younger-looking than mine, even when the tips got a little cool, until I touched them and they warmed again.  They refused coolness.  In that last half an hour they refused stillness.  You raised your arm and I can't stop wondering now, were you reaching for my hand?3 I was on the other side of you and didn't take a hold,  thought that you were feeling for the light I'd read about.  But what if you weren't, and I didn't reach to pull you back?  My hand was on your leg.  Could you feel it through the sheets?  Over the swelling?  The terror.  I watched your fingers fall back onto the couch.  I watched you will your blood back, and your heart to pump, and your lungs to keep inflating despite the water.  It must have hurt, all that effort; all that torpor and loneliness and trust that you would wake up wake up wake up

Vana Manasiadis is a Greek Wellingtonian now living in Auckland/Tāmaki makaurau.  She edited and translated the bilingual poetry collection Ναυάγια/Καταφύγια:Shipwrecks/Shelters, her poetry collection Ithaca Island Bay Leaves appeared in 2009, and its sequel The Grief Almanack will be completed in 2017. She teaches and is taught at AUT.