Remember the flower you had never seen?
Wide as your hand, its white
moth-wings open five-petalled
toward your face, and its pistils
bend toward your nose in a wave
of fragrance just verging on the allergic,
and for a long time that hot night above
the blackness of the Indian Ocean
you pass that flower over your face.
Which is enough, really, but then
you must know its name & ask
a native there, a dark-haired girl.
Which name she tells you/which name
you print primitively, phonetically, and she
comes near, leans over you, shakes her head no,
says nothing but takes the pen from your hand
& in a script which blossoms
on the weedy page, on the desert
of your scratching, writes kumbúng sanyú.
You start laughing, you can't
stop laughing, the words
are so beautiful,
and preposterous, and true.
Contents | Mudlark No. 3