The river, a rushing beast
running rugged through foliage
scraggly and thick.
This deep out-breath of life
with thought to wind
and only heart, I relinquish—
together we are a clawing
prayer, ragged hymn.
Deep in the disappearing
savage currents I am
away afloat engulfed
Me, a swaying sea kelp
tender and long and brittle bones.
Me, the bearer of silvered water moons
clutching breasts and whirling hair.
Me, the exalted one.
In the jagged depths of lone nights,
in the rapture of river, water curtains part
trapping the cold gleam of moon in swift
chevron scales, the white span of belly
netted and gutted and bled on your table.
Skywaters descend over
a marble love tomb staining white
a sharp spring leaf burning green
a far puddle innocently brown
water bier to an old toad belly up—
cause of death, said the pathologist
as the diener scraped and sliced,
something that is not love.
I never knew the beauty of the pongamia pinnata blooms, till I saw a woman, slender and linen-clad,
wear it in her hair, a single stem in loosely wound hair.
Now I see it through her eyes, see it lying on the ground, simple and unassuming. She wouldn't have
plucked it, no. She is that girl you may have known in school who was quiet and sure, delicate and
strong as bamboo reed, who saved a wayward ladybird by gently sliding a leaf under it and leaving it
by the roots of a tree.
This woman, her hand would have reached down, the flower would have been lifted gingerly, her
companions stopping and looking back at her. Look, how pretty, she would've said. She may have
hesitated a moment before tucking it in her hair. She may have forgotten about it until she reached
home and unwound her hair, her hairbrush stopping short as she saw the stem caught in the tangle of
hair. She would have reached for an old, favorite book, the kind a silverfish is proud to call a home,
and saved the flower between its pages, her smile a reverie, there but not there.
Someday in the future, weeks, months, years later, her daughter may take that book out, catching the
now-brown flower as it is about to fall. Holding it between two fingers, delighted, she too would say,