Virginia Barrett

Ancestors—A Ghazal

Clouds oppress —you endorse the view of the sky,
But we cannot embrace the blue of the sky.

Peacock is the color of the Master's eyes—
A silk veil, imported, in lieu of the sky.

Slaughter and enslavement—is all we may see;
The steel strokes of torture they drew of the sky.

Oh ancestors, do you turn in your pale graves?
The flesh rots first under the rue of the sky.

I went searching for high lines to weave a trap
Of longing, strung taut as sinews of the sky.

We hold lanterns in our hearts to walk through day;
Our journey detained—the curfew of the sky.

Wandering sages know the beggar is wise;
The city's a maze, find the clue of the sky.

Ranting, the mind strays from the beloved's gaze;
Who can spew the real storm's review of the sky?

The Queen was so honored; they gave her a state.
Our Virginia seeks the true hue of the sky.


Virginia Barrett's work has most recently appeared in Poetry of Resistance: A Multicultural Anthology in Response to Arizona SB 1070 (University of Arizona Press), Belle Reve, and Apple Valley Review. She is the editor of two anthologies of contemporary San Francisco poets, Feather Floating on the Water—poems for our children (winner of an Acker Award for the avant-garde) and OCCUPY SF—poems from the movement. She is the recipient of a three-month writer’s residency grant from the Helena Wurlitzer Foundation beginning January, 2017.