An excerpt from a sonnet series. The titles have been taken from notes written to Juliet at the Casa Di Giulietta in Verona, asking for help in or reminiscing about love. While visiting Verona, Stiles was in love herself. The sonnet series reflects on this relationship as she travelled around Italy
Aiutaci a imparare ad amare noi stessi prima
Loving you was like living in a house
of mirrors. My body blurring, shifting,
rearranging, always trying to be
perfect for you. Standing a mass of stretched
limbs, discoloured eyes, asking what it was
that you didn’t recognise, crossing out
parts you couldn’t love. I found nothing left
of myself. I’d write your touch onto my
skin and tell you this is enough, as if
anyone could feel loved by the ghost of
themselves. Losing you was like escaping
captivity. Like an ocean clearing
into a lake, like night clearing into
day: finally, I can say amo me stressa.
Dio Ti Ama
We walked, hand in hand, through the walls of the
Vatican, surrounded by saints. You led
me under the archway to the fountain,
asked if the water was holy, pouring
it all over your burning skin before
I could reply. It shattered like shards of
glass raining on your shoulders, your forehead,
your thighs… I said well if so, you’re going
to carry it your whole life. Peter looked
down at us and sighed. There was a glint in
your eye. Water fractured beneath our feet
like ice as we climbed right to the top of
the Basilica, like it raised us there.
Rome, far beneath us, continued to glow.
non mi sento bene quando sono solo di notte
we grew a bit older that night. a bit
wiser. a bit colder in the heat of
your hand, inches from the borders of my
body — we were tired. lying, watching
old boats make their way through choppy waters.
wondering, too, where we might be going.
i nearly drowned in the stillness. you were
the moon; i was wading through changing tides
and you felt every wave inside me. you
glided through thick space i always hated
for its calmness. from up there, nothing else
seemed important. that will always haunt me.
i still churn when i lie alone at night
feeling distant pulls from murky waters.
Sono sveglio a pensare a te, sembre un sogno.
Unpicking time to put back together,
I hope it might be different. Maybe, now,
we’ll be alright — stop stuttering over
these seconds as they slip slowly by, just
ride forever on the waves of moments
as our cogs become smooth and we move through
the world like its face is a clock with no
stop. I long to lock you inside my watch,
keep you turning forever above my
pulse. To keep the blood running. To make my
skin hot. To feel myself blurring as we
melt into each others’ tangled pasts, but —
your hand still ticks just a little too fast.
I sit and rewind it back to the start.
Ti ho amato dal momento in cui ti ho incontrato
Love at first sight is such a myth. You don’t
read a poem once and think it’s beauti
ful. Loving something takes time. Loving some
one is a struggle — A re-reading of
the self in the close reading of anoth
er. Like any good critic, you must be in
tensely alone, but still part of a large
r conversation. Love is not a patt
ern, a procedure. You can’t count the syll
ables and get it right. You can’t write ‘I’
one hundred and forty times and call your
Self a sonnet. What kind of love is that?
Something you will never be. Poetry
is just reading intimately
Amarti è facile
Just the ocean breeze, and you, and me. I
don’t know why we complicate things sometimes
in poetry. We spent all day at sea
collecting twenty three starfish on a
paddle board, cold water on hot skin, limbs
gliding through white space — we said everything
there is to say in silence. Sometimes, that’s
the only way. And when the sun set at
the end of the day, we were alone with
our own universe. For a while, hours
passed. We watched lights walk like words from a page,
as we all will one day. One by one, we
plucked stars from the sky and sent them to the
sea. I watched them plunge to depths beyond me.
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