Christina Pagès grew up in Kent, England, and came to America in 1970. She received her Ph.D. in English in 1993 at the University of South Carolina while teaching as a part-time adjunct and raising four children.  Her first poetry collection, Shadow Words (Watermark Press, 2006) received an award from The International Poetry Society. Several poems from her second collection Remember Not To Forget (Summerland Publishing, 2013) received a Pushcart Nomination.  Christina was California State Poetry Society’s 19th Annual Contest Winner in 2005. She was granted a John Woods fellowship from the Western Michigan University in 2008 for a poetry workshop in Prague. Her poems have been published in In Other Words: An American Poetry Anthology 2000, the International Library of Poetry's The Best Poems and Poets of 2004, and The Colors of Life (2005) and various literary journals.

For the last seven years, she has attended the San Miguel Poetry Week, at San Miguel de Allende, Mexico where she has studied under such poets as Tony Hoagland, Robert Wrigley, Tony Barnstone, David St. John, and many others. She owes much of her inspiration and development as a poet to this workshop.

Her children’s book, The Mountain Boy (Summerland Publishing 2007) is the first in a series called “Nature Children.” Her second book in this series, The Turtle Boy, is already completed and ready for publication. Christina has written two plays that were performed at California State University Channel Islands, Camarillo. Her play Man in a Machine Shop was recently shortlisted by Little Black Dress.org and read in Santa Barbara.

Christina is presently teaching at Santa Barbara City College, Santa Barbara, California, and living in Ojai, California.  She paints landscapes in oil and takes part in the Ojai Art Detour every October.  Some of her paintings can be viewed on her website christinapages.com  She is an enthusiastic gardener, lover of classical music, and a piano player.

 

Spent Gypsy Magic

A grandmother, roasting a chicken over the fire,
long skirts close to the flames, looked at me with hunger.
She wanted more than food or clothes.

“I’ll read your palm,” she told me in country
French I could hardly understand.
She smelled of witchcraft, or was it the charred

wood, the hiss of a bird warming his breast
above her on a gnarled branch?
Before I held out my hand she showed me her scarred legs —

more than once the fire had caught her ragged skirts
but her eyes burned hotter than her scorched skin —
“Sister,” she called me. “Sister Spirit.” Her black eyes

beckoned me to a dim recess, a clearing thick with vague stirrings.
She reached for my hand, stroked the fingers lovingly:
“The time will come,” she crooned, ‘when you will have

all the wealth you need.” The old timepiece of her face shone
like a burnished clock on a bell-tower in some ancient town.
The hunger in her veins ran up my arm

into my chest. I urged her: “What about the rest?
Where for centuries have I been”?
“Tell more,” warbled the redbreast,

as I hung in a web of gypsy myth, strung
among shadows and nymphs. “You are my sister,”
she murmured, as I handed her some francs.

“I will tell you more if you give me more money.”
The shine of her face, her redemptive grin,
faded to the mercenary glint of gold patched teeth —

“I have no more francs,” I said. Her eyes burned
as she looked in scorn at my well-ironed blouse,
then returned to her chicken. 

A bird shrieked through sun-parched leaves;
I stumbled back to the car through
cigarette butts and empty cans of beer.

(Near Limoges, France)

published by The Ephemera Literary Journal

Adult Poverty

The boy hangs about tourists
on uneven steps
against a terracotta wall;
his eyes under baby bear hair
squint in the sun.
He is curious about my whiter skin,
my strange world,
my way of speaking.

But I’m not his main attraction.
For he clutches a ball
in his brown hand,
then rolls it on the grey-slab street,
up then down, enchanted
with its bumping, stopping,
sticking between the sidewalk
in an infinity of ways a ball can roll —

I notice the ball is peeling,
and as it lurches over the stones
it leaves behind a piece of potato.
That potato’s fun, I say in Spanish
with a smile.
The boy stares, puzzled.
 “It’s not a potato; it’s my ball,”
and continues his rolling.

(San Miguel de Allende, Mexico)

from “Remember Not to Forget”

Cello Farewell

You felt the strain of being
too fine-strung for this earth’s orchestra

so my tears run when against
taut strings a cellist finds

your deepest chord, when crafted
wood emits a song of trees
from the earth’s, from your core,

when our love like shining leaves
falls to a deep stream
through fading seasons  —

when your smile, your heart,
pass through me, then die
in music, the mother of tears —

“Excuse me,” you said that night,
then disappeared from sight,
and excuse me, I say, I must cry

for stresses you didn’t show,
in the death you shielded from my eyes.
And thank you, I say, for our love,

bound tight in sweet sorrow
in the deep strain of this cello.

from “Remember Not to Forget”

 

Christina Pagès

 

 

2014 Christina Pagès


 

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