Ferdinandea

By MARIA TERRONE

One of several names given to a ghost island that appeared in July 1831

When the buried volcano erupted,
sulfuric smoke leapt from the Sicilian sea,
seeped through locked, felt-lined chests,
blackening the silverware.

It was like rage—flames and letting go,
the sea a bubbling cauldron of dead fish,
a bad taste in the mouth.
An islet rose from the depths—

not glittering Atlantis, but a desolation
swiftly spreading like news of its strange
arrival.  Who can know why four nations
would stake claim to a stark mile

of tufa and pumice, what a naval surgeon called
“unhallowed ground”? Even the gulls fled,
screaming, but not the scientists, dreamers,
adventurers, curiosity-seekers,

cartographers who eyed nearby Tunisia,
and writers seeking mythic inspiration—
Jules Verne, Sir Walter Scott,
James Fenimore Cooper, Alexandre Dumas.

Like a wine connoisseur, someone sipped
the water of its two ponds, living to pronounce
the red one “salty, spicy,”
the yellow one “sulfuric.”

By December, the ghost had vanished
to a smudge of shoal with a new British name.
Soldiers and sailors returned home.
Contessas reclaimed their silver spoons.

Maria Terrone is the author of two poetry collections, A Secret Room in Fall and The Bodies We were Loaned, as well as a chapbook, American Gothic, Take 2.

[Purchase Issue 01 here.]

Willa JarnaginFerdinandea

Related Posts

Mole

In the Natural World

LAWRENCE RAAB
Animals dream, but of what we do not know… / Maybe some think back, / maybe others regret. But what about guilt? / Does it play a part in their kingdom? / …In one night / moles can dig tunnels 300 feet long, / while all that time we’re awake / brooding about the future…

great smoky mountains national park

The Little River

SUSAN HARLAN
The Little River isn’t very little or rather/ I don’t know what it is little in relationship to./ By the bank the water is smooth as paper/ but in the middle my sneakered feet are unsteady/ pulled by the current.

The busy streets of New York City.

Four Poems from New York City

SEAN SINGER
Tonight in the taxi I drove four women from a bachelorette party complete with their tiaras and feathers to another bar. Already happy, they pushed the soon-to-be-bride forward and she asked me how I thought she looked. / I was too taken aback to answer...