The Wound Beautiful

Elizabeth Kirkpatrick-Vrenios

The Wound Beautiful

I was born to the coldness
of Icelandic stones.
Finnish Sisu deep in my veins
leads me past the icy scar
of Mother’s thin lip and whip,
a mark laid on my worth:
never enough.
I must tell you I need that strain
to survive.
I hide the moon in my clothes,
my singing joy in the pocket
of my lover’s corduroy coat,
my favorite record of Chaliapin
under the loose stone in the wall.
The barb-wired earth
seeks my woman’s voice
leaves the word for courage
keening and curled under my tongue,
but like every good Finn
every once in a while
I dance naked in the snow.


Author’s Comments: My background is Finnish – my mother immigrating to the US when she was three years old. Her background was harsh, reflecting the cruel conditions of Finland at the time and the harsh conditions for poor immigrants who were arriving by the thousands during that time.  This was reflected in my upbringing where there was no reward, only punishment, and where we were taught to hide our feelings and reactions.

Elizabeth Kirkpatrick-Vrenios’ award-winning chapbook, Special Delivery, was published in the spring of 2016. Nominated for a Pushcart award in 2019, she has poems published in various venues including Stories of Music, Love Notes from Humanity, Hudson Review, Poeming Pidgeon, Passager, NILVX, Unsplendid, Scissors and Spackle, and the American Journal of Poetry. She is a Professor Emerita from American University, artistic director of the Redwoods Opera in Mendocino, California, and has spent much of her life performing as a singing artist across Europe and the United States.

Editor’s Notes: Sisu is a Finnish concept described as stoic determination, tenacity of purpose, grit, bravery, resilience, and hardiness and is held by Finns themselves to express their national character. It is generally considered not to have a literal equivalent in English [Wikipedia]. Image:  Dancing girl, a colorful abstract (Freedesignfile/Starder) combined with wintery snowfall (Pixabay)

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