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Toti O’Brien

Toti O’Brien is the Italian Accordionist with the Irish Last Name. Born in Rome, living in Los Angeles, she is an artist, musician and dancer. She is the author of Other Maidens (BlazeVOX, 2020), An Alphabet of Birds (Moonrise Press, 2020), In Her Terms (Cholla Needles Press, 2021), Pages of a Broken Diary (Pski’s Porch, 2022) and Alter Alter (Elyssar Press, 2022).


So the night was the sea, the sea was the night.
She got used to the purple glare, the translucent streak
of ultramarine mottling the darkness. She understood
the vibration of black, here compact, there porous,
opening itself like an archway.

The boat was small and frail, made of rattan, a junk
at the mercy of the waves. A cowbell was fastened
to the bow in guise of a figurehead – it rung like
a faint tocsin, with no sadness attached. Salt had bitten
her lips with its ardent kiss.

The blind girl once explained how the light – the lost
residue ambling at the very top of her corneas –
was painful. Harmful flashes, disturbing the quiet.
She got used to the modulations of black, dotted
scarlet, green, indigo.

The sun never pierced the curtain of clouds – slate sky,
wiped clear of all signs. If she closed her eyes, she saw
hieroglyphs spelling an inner parable. She pondered
the gift of immortality, wishing to return
the package intact.

The boat was very frail, like a moon-shaped nail clip,
like a broken eggshell, like a fallen eyelash.


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