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Sunday Poetry with Domenica Martinello

Sunday Poetry with Domenica Martinello

By Coach House Date: May 24, 2020

Today on Sunday Poetry we have Domenica Martinello on the biblical inspiration behind “Miraculous Catch” from her debut collection, All Day I Dream About Sirens.




maid of many bloods

& a cut through the middle


of me, half underscore

half sardine


skyline of two

hues clamping shut




all deceit

cannot be entered


cannot be entered

girded against


net and fishhook

loins of the mind


gaping quietly

a slow suggestive ‘o’




composite of spring

matter, meat and stones


attached by two fleshes

soul skewered to an arrow


stay deep stay low

dark little baskets


darting in the shallows

multiply, starving


my soul too

thin to be collected


under the high gallery

& stained glass


 of voiceful





men of many men

ready to accept


their new vocation

new ultimate tongue


grow their hair long

& useful


casting lines, weaving

creels from their beards


thinking the shoreline

is their shoreline, singular


sure the skyline

will crack open


like a walnut

if they will it


they will not get

their sandals wet


thinking they alone

can walk


that salty crease




“Miraculous Catch” is named after the bible story “The Miraculous Catch of Fish” in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 5:1–11). In the story, fishermen on the Sea of Galilee are having tough luck until Jesus shows up. He tells them to let down their nets and they are rewarded with a great catch. The speaker of my poem, observing these men-turned-disciples, is truly something miraculous: a “maid of many bloods,” a mermaid.

My initiation into the world of myth, metaphor, and symbolism was through Christianity. I attended a Catholic elementary and middle school and felt creatively invigorated by all my religion classes. The apostles seemed like one big awesome friend group, complete with fluctuating loyalties, dramas, and disagreements. Someone like Saint Veronica, risking it all to wipe Jesus’s bloody face with her veil, resonated with me. She was a badass rebel! It made sense, in myth logic, that she’d be rewarded with a magical cloth that could cure blindness and raise the dead. Though instead of magic (heathen!), I was taught to say miracle (holy).

My interest in Christian myth was pure and un-academic and tinged with the eccentricities and superstitions of my Italian family. It’s only natural that Christian symbols and stories began mingling with the other mythological explorations in my writing.

I let myself have fun transposing the mermaids that already lived and frolicked in All Day I Dream about Sirens into these stories: what if the miracle of Jesus walking on water was a trick of a devoted mermaid, guiding his feet beneath the waves? What if Mary Magdalene, Christianity’s OG siren, was a mermaid? Would that explain all the multiplying fish and watery baptisms and fish bumper stickers on the back of mini-vans? In my imagination, yes.




Domenica Martinello holds an MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where she was the recipient of the Deena Davidson Friedman Prize for Poetry.