Published: Feb. 2015
Within: Delphi Series Vol. 1
“Anna Leahy has written a seductive suite of persona poems in the voice of nineteenth century model, painter and poet Elizabeth Siddall. In these poems the narrator meditates on various aspects of her life, including posing, sketching, motherhood, her red hair and even the laudenum which eventually takes her life. Historically accurate, the poems give us a fresh, imaginative look at Siddal’s inner life. One is reminded of Adrienne Rich’s comments about re-vision, entering an old text from a new critical direction, being an act of survival. “Dream me up; imagine me new” Leahy writes in one poem, and I am grateful for these bright and skillfully wrought imaginings of a woman whose life was shaped by the tension of being both subject and object, artist and muse.”—Sheryl St Germain
“This latest collection by Anna Leahy takes the ekphrastic poem out of the stuffy confines of museums and studios and turns it into a means for discovery and revelation. These poems breathe life into their subjects with a delicate touch and a thrumming heart. Intelligent, finely-wrought, concise and precise, the poems of Sharp Miracle truly are eye-openers in the best sense. I feel my relationship with art charged and changed upon reading this chapbook.”—Allison Joesph
Anna Leahy’s book Constituents of Matter won the Wick Poetry Prize. Her poems and essays appear in The Southern Review, The Rumpus, Crab Orchard Review, The Pinch, Gravel, and more. She teaches in the MFA and BFA programs at Chapman University, where she edits the journal TAB and curates the Tabula Poetica reading series. She also co-writes Lofty Ambitions blog at http://loftyambitions.wordpress.com.
On Not Being St. Cecilia (1857)
Like birds, her fingertips light on the keys.
She’s tuned and plays out of mind, out of sight
like crickets near dusk or owls dark at night.
She works up a sweat. She thinks she’s a tree.
All limbs, Cecilia climbs into her tub:
the luminous steam rises like wings,
the water boils like flocks of geese. It stings
blisters like feathers, scabs like leaves. She scrubs.
When this wet widow rises from her bath,
she bends with the breeze, then returns to her bench.
Her fingers are finches singing a riff
so she can’t hear what’s coming, nor whose wrath.
And when the axe hits her neck, her woody stench
fills the unsung world with organ music.
—first appeared in Image: A Journal of Arts & Religion