Blessed Ossana

poem and collage art by
MARY MARIE DIXON | Poet + Visual Artist 


My work, Blessed Ossana, is in response to the remarkable spiritual experiences of a 15th century female mystic, Ossana Andreasi. Ossana lived in Mantua, Italy, near the birthplace of Virgil. The visual work is a collage of recycled paper. In using this resource, I honor the beauty that is often lost in our disposable society. The poem is an inspired work that reflects upon the extraordinary and supernatural that is possible in the world. Instead of embracing the presence of the supernatural in the world, as Ossana did, more often than not, we are like the hare who seeks refuge from it.
It is easy to go down into Hell;
Night and day the gates of dark Death stand wide;
But to climb back again, to retrace one’s step to the upper air—
There’s the rub, the task. –Virgil
There, shrieking, in the thicket,
Hounds sounding and clawing
To reach you.  I haul the brutes away 
And chain them beyond the hedge.
The maze of Christ-thorn;
Paints a scape of blood-lines 
In thin brush and lindseed oil
Over skin’s white gesso.
You tremble and struggle,
Your eyes rolling with fear.
Poor coniglio,
You thrust and jab.
Red pools on my arms;
Plum blossoms fall like rain
In the unweaving of limbs.
I lift you from the copse; 
Fleeing your priso
You leap to zigzag the rising turf
Beyond the villa, into the stand of lilies 
That break in a wave of green and white.
It is now that I see the whirlwind
Consuming itself in the weight of risen dust.
How gray its dance, how like precision,
A profane sequence of natural rhythm
Winging over sown ground;
Chi semina vento raccoglie tempesta,
Yet the little rabbit escapes the hound.
Angels hover over the lily bed
And pluck the sapping stems.
Ah paradiso! 
The cross piercing
Hounds my flesh.
The angels, in tempestuous dance,
Garner and raise the broken stems, 
Yet, only you, coniglio
Find your refuge under lilies.