KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 10: Fall 2018
Poem: 136 words [R]


by Rachel Guido deVries

Imperfection is the place where the spirit enters,
the small hole in your shirt, the loosening threads
of carpet, the ache in your soul for forgiveness.
Where the camel waits, where the eye strays,
where the hand reaches up, empty of all but breath,
is the place where the soul begins, its gravity mightier
than we may ever know. There, where the rug unravels
like a rope of time, where pockets bleed their secrets
between the seams. In a widow’s eyes words appear
lit up like stars in a deep sky: If God is all we believe, soul
and sorrow and bliss, the soul is stone and lattice,
ligature and air, and it lives in the body’s secret lapses.
How grateful then to know imperfection’s door swinging
open and closed, how good to be humbled.


—Published previously in The Catholic Sun (29 September 2010) and Sojourners (1 December 2008); appears here with author’s permission


Rachel Guido deVries
Issue 10, Fall 2018

is a feminist poet and fiction writer, whose works concern her southern Italian heritage and her lesbian identity. She is the author of nine books, including five poetry collections: A Woman Unknown in Her Bones (Bordighera Books, 2014), An Arc of Light (1978), and three published by Guernica Editions: The Brother Inside Me (2008); Gambler’s Daughter (2001), a finalist for the 2002 Paterson Poetry Prize); and How to Sing to a Dago (1996). Her novel, Tender Warriors (Firebrand Books, 1986), is still in print; and Bordighera Books published two of her four children’s books, including Teeny Tiny Tino’s Fishing Story, which won the 2008 Paterson Prize for Books for Young Children, and Stati Zitta, Josie (2014).

Her fiction has appeared in Ragazine, and her poems have been published in Yellow Silk, VIA: Voices in Italian Americana, the Paterson Literary Review, Rattle, Stone Canoe, and elsewhere. Her poetry, fiction, and essays are anthologized in several collections, including Wild Dreams: The Best of Italian Americana (Fordham University Press, 2008), Rhetorical Choices: A Reader for Writers (Penguin Academics, 2004), The Italian American Reader (William Morrow, 2003), The Milk of Almonds (The Feminist Press, 2002), Don’t Tell Mama! The Penguin Book of Italian American Writing (Penguin, 2002), and The Voices We Carry: Italian American Women Writers (Guernica, 1994), among others.

From 1978 to 1982, deVries co-directed the Women’s Writers Center in Cazenovia, New York (the city where she lives), and directed the Feminist Women’s Writing Workshops at Wells College. In 1984, she founded the Community Writers’ Project in Syracuse, New York, and served as its director until 1995. In 1987, she received an Artist’s Fellowship in Fiction from the New York Foundation. She has taught creative writing at Onondaga Community College and at Syracuse University, serves as a poet-in-the-schools throughout central and upstate New York, and offers workshops independently.

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Tattoo: A Memory in Serving House Journal (Issue 18, Spring 2018); this poem was an Honorable Mention for the Steve Kowit Poetry Prize 2017.

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