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One reason I like opera
Marge Piercy


In movies, you can tell the heroine
because she is blonder and thinner
than her sidekick. The villainess
is darkest. If a woman is fat,
she is a joke and will probably die.

In movies, the blondest are the best
and in bleaching lies not only purity
but victory. If two people are both
extra pretty, they will end up
in the final clinch.

Only the flawless in face and body
win. That is why I treat
movies as less interesting
than comic books. The camera
is stupid. It sucks surfaces.

Let's go to the opera instead.
The heroine is fifty and weighs
as much as a '65 Chevy with fins.
She could crack your jaw in her fist.
She can hit high C lying down.

The tenor the women scream for
wolfs down an eight course meal daily.
He resembles a bull on hind legs.
His thighs are the size of beer kegs.
His chest is a redwood with hair.

Their voices twine, golden serpents.
Their voices rise like the best
fireworks and hang and hang
then drift slowly down descending
in brilliant and still fiery sparks.

The hippopotamus baritone (the villain)
has a voice that could give you
an orgasm right in your seat.
His voice smokes with passion.
He is hot as lava. He erupts nightly.

The contralto is, however, svelte.
She is supposed to be the soprano's
mother, but is ten years younger,
beautiful and Black. Nobody cares.
She sings you into her womb where you rock.

What you see is work like digging a ditch,
hard physical labor. What you hear
is magic as tricky as knife throwing.
What you see is strength like any
great athlete's. What you hear

is still rendered precisely as the best
Swiss watchmaker. The body is
resonance. The body is the cello case.
The body just is. The voice loud
as hunger remagnetizes your bones.

From Colors Passing Through Us (Knopf, 2003).
Used with the author's permission.



Marge Piercy is the author of 20 poetry collections, 17 novels, a short story collection, a memoir, and five nonfiction books. Her most recent poetry collection is On the Way Out, Turn Off the Light. Marge holds several honorary doctorates and has read her work at more than 575 venues around the world. An enthusiastic gardener, she lives on Cape Cod with her husband and several cats. Learn more about her at






Post New Comment:
Wilda Morris:
I just got home from a matinee at Lyric Opera of Chicago (Porgy and Bess), so this very well timed for me! It's a poem I've read before - and enjoy reading again and again.
Posted 11/26/2014 07:53 PM
Opera poem great a real LULU
Posted 11/21/2014 08:10 PM
Love this! I've written opera poems myself. But these days, the sopranos are usually youthful-looking, slim and beautiful. Love the line "She sings you into her womb where you rock." Yes, that's what a contralto's voice does for me!
Posted 11/21/2014 11:24 AM
I want to just swim in the awesomeness of this poem forever.
Posted 11/21/2014 10:52 AM
Posted 11/21/2014 08:44 AM
ha, love this!
Posted 11/21/2014 07:30 AM
you are WOW!
Posted 11/21/2014 12:13 AM

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