Published by The Lucy Quieter Press, Realigned Landscapes is a narrative in three parts. The first, set in 1880s Ioanina, Greece, tells the story of some of Ali Pasha's concubines and slaves. Part two reveals a 1970s family comprising of husband, wife, mistress and children and how it copes with this with this unusual set-up, while part three sees the denouement of the narrative with the coming together at university in the 1980s of one of the children and the great, great, great grand daughter of one of the concubines. The collection is in a mixed genre style, told in poetry, prose and drama, in traditional rhymed forms and more innovative forms of poetry.
The idea for the book was conceived on the author's first trip to Ioannina in 2000 with her friend, Nicola Taramanides, who sadly passed away before she had a chance to read the book.
THE MAN DISCUSSES HIS LIFE IN SONNETS
If my being were so simple as to be bounded by a triangle,
I have not yet counted all the sides that border my life,
the disorder that stands outside my shape’s angles –
great betrayer, rival, my humiliated unwanted wife.
I am not a philanderer, have never strayed before
although my wife is wearisome and full of spite,
she’s a feral cat, teeth barred, calls my lover a whore
though I ty to explain the cliché of love at first sight.
I could never be a bigamist, live a double life of loss,
lose the joy of seeing my children every single day
and having my wife give orders as if she is the boss.
I have a new, tender romance, one that has come to stay,
one that roused my departure from ennui
a love like no other that I didn’t foresee.
ELEKTRA’S ESCAPE INTO THE HAREM
I wake to possibilities the day has yet to spoil,
have been bathed in oils and perfumed water,
my maid has egg-yolked my hair, used the whites
to massage with fingertips into crow’s feet yet
to appear. She kneads my feet, loofahs my skin
to a pearly luminescence. Pearls and peacock feathers
are entwined into my, long, dark, lustrous curls.
I relax with an opium pipe, drink a glass of sherbet.
I smile and stretch, the opium makes me happy,
yet still the stench of the tanneries assaults me.
The putrid piss pots my brothers collected,
left for us on street corners; the animal dung
my sisters and I gathered to work the hides before
they were soaked in the tides of the lake
and stretched on frames to dry.
Promised in marriage when I had only a rumour of breasts,
a tickle of pubic hair. I was to be wed to an old and ugly tabaki,
a friend of my filthy father. My grunting, groaning father
who fucked my poor mother night after disgusting,
wine-driven night. He would have bedded me if she
had refused; noticed his lustful, wandering hands
explore beneath my foul sackcloth clothes.
I followed the wives and concubines of the Pasha,
watched them enjoy the fresh air of gardens and parks,
arms linked, friendships, not a care in the world.
I envied their fine clothes, their jangling necklaces,
tiaras, rings, bangles. I wanted to be one of them.
A plan shaped. I waded naked into the lake where I knew
the Pasha would board his boat to hunt ducks.
I emerged bit by beautiful bit. He noticed, approved,
had me conveyed to the harem; I was saved.
So, I repose on a low divan, covered in tapestries of mauve
and plum and red with threaded gold. My room is sumptuous,
plumose. In my laziness I watch the sun cast shadows
of latticed shutters against the wall, watch the fluttering laciness of voile curtains. I glimpse a mimosa tree in full flower.
Tonight, the Pasha wants me, will deflower me.
His sheets will be creased and red-stained.
I taste the words: I am a concubine. The Pasha’s
concupiscence wins. I laugh to stop myself from weeping.