Marjorie Agosín’s intensely personal long poem The Light of Desire is both a secular and sacred meditation on love and its meanings in the land of Israel. Following the tradition of the Song of Songs and the secular poetry of Sepharad, the beloved in The Light of Desire is both physical and metaphorical. The lovers’ bodies are the paths, the geography, leading not only from desire to sensual pleasure, but to memory and illumination. The light on the pink stones of Jerusalem, the sunlight of Galilee, from hills to the sea, the fragrant air and “mantle of stars,” all become one in this tender, rhapsodic expression of longing and desire. This is not unrequited love, but rather a reciprocal passion that brings exquisite pleasure, pain, a sense of fragility, and the hope and belief in that which is eternal.
The poem was written over a four-year span in Jerusalem’s Mishkenot Sha’ananim neighborhood, overlooking the wall of the Second Temple, and these hallowed surroundings imbued Agosín’s poetic voice. Lori Marie Carlson’s sensitive translation maintains the spirit of the original Spanish in this bilingual edition.
A Stitch in Air: A Novel
Lori Marie Carlson Texas Tech University Press, 2013 Library of Congress PS3553.A73254S75 2013 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
The venerable Convent of Saint Margaret in Granada is the stage for many things: Catholic devotion, the art of lacemaking, magic, and amorous passion. It is The Golden Age in Spain, that glorious time of creativity, as well as ambiguity. And the beautiful Moorish palace, the Alhambra, adds a special enchantment to the backdrop.
Adela, a young postulant of Jewish origin, suffers the death of her Mozarabic teacher, Milagros, at the beginning of this tale. But Milagros leaves her beloved pupil with a legacy of secrets that will guide her as she meets the challenges of adulthood. When Adela encounters the great playwright, Hernán de Vigo who, unbeknownst to the sisterhood, has come to the convent by order of the Inquisition to investigate claims of heresy, her life changes forever. Hernán de Vigo, who is also a priest, discovers that the convent is a most unusual place. Many of its inhabitants are disgruntled nuns who find solace and comfort in delicious food and frivolity, the protection of the Virgin Mary, and dreams of love. The abbess, herself, is a most independent-minded woman who fervently believes in justice. And so the drama and comedy begin!
When all hell breaks loose—including a major flood in the convent—the sisterhood of Saint Margaret discovers its true purpose on earth.