Photo courtesy of Fred Dalkey
Victoria Dalkey’s poems have appeared in Abraxas, bakunin,
Birmingham Review, Cimarron Review, Napa Review, and other
small press publications. Her first chapbook, Twenty-Nine
Poems, was published in 1999 by Red Wing Press. Since 1976,
she has written reviews, interviews and feature articles about
art for The Sacramento Bee. In March of 2007 she received
a tribute from the Center for Contemporary Art, Sacramento.
The photo by
Jyoti Alexander appeared in Midtown Monthly with the
caption "Josh Michael and the Center for Contemporary
Art, Sacramento, board vice president Joy Bertinusen
present a plaque to Victoria Dalkey." The etched granite
plaque will be installed at CCASac to honor Victoria's
contribution to the arts community. Since 1984 as the
Sacramento Bee's Art Correspondent, she has written more
than 1,000 reviews which have introduced many to the
visual arts in Sacramento. More than 150 people attended
the tribute to Victoria, which was held at the home of
Burnett and Mimi Miller on March 17, 2007.
Victoria Dalkey Poems
Under the Palm: A Photograph, 1898
A palm frond explodes
over the man’s head.
His arms hold a baby tight
against the bottons of his vest.
The baby stares at the stick pin
that holds his tie to his chest.
The palm is black
like the man’s hat and vest.
The sky is white
like the baby’s face and dress.
In the negative everything is reversed:
the palm a white firework
burst on the night sky,
the man in blackface
like the baby in her black dress,
a transparent ghost
fading in darkness.
Only the alchemy
of the silver print
lends a brief substance
to their images grown faint,
the absence of silver
washing down the baby’s face
under the tarnishing palm.
Who knows anymore
why, in the picture,
the palm is somber
the sky bleak
the world so black and white.
And who will know when I am gone
that the man’s name is William
the baby’s name Mabel
that she is his only daughter
(the aunt I am supposed to be like)
that she died before
her hair and lips could darken
under the palm.
Snapshot by the pond: Slant light falling jagged
on the new green world. Mother in pink suit
with padded shoulders, brother in blue serge
and me, awkward would-be ballerina in yellow ruffles,
white shoes, white gloves. No father, of course.
Was he there, taking the picture? Not likely.
The pond’s in the picture, deep and dark
its fountain spray glinting in the sunlight.
The old frog, hidden in the rocks, watches
the pregnant carp, white skin sloughing off gold.
Later, I’ll dive in, let the fish bite my thighs,
cleanse myself of church, father, redemption
the risen Christ floating up over the pond
as I wash myself in the dark waters.