Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2022  Vol. 21  No. 2
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Paradise Lust

Myth informs me you have need of neither foot nor wing, bird-of-paradise.
Yet you remain aloft, & when you land, you’re pure lustrum, cured of paradise.

Soon I’ll glimpse the constellated you, your body a bending
arrow in austral skies;
but for now, I’ll keep confiding in the night: I need a word with paradise.

It’s 1910. Milliners immortalize your plumes, turn your tussocked tail to frill,
your evolution to adornment. What spills from ribboned brims: denatured paradise.

I watch you bloom—xanthous, aliform, inviting. Though your pollinator’s feet were
pared away, my fingers find your spathe, spread what is no longer
measured by paradise.

Passeriformes, formal—you dance the way others breathe. Thought to breed in mid-
air, to pass at the earth’s touch, your love is a thing lured by paradise.

It’s 2020 & you’re growing on my mother’s southern grave, under the name
Strelitzia. I planted you believing your pulchritude perennial, inured to paradise.

Your name is rootbound with royal, form & enclosure. I slip off my
shoes, take a walk through polyandriums nightly marred by paradise.

This game of lost & found is leaving me troubled & teased. Walker, your feet are
bare & your hands hold nothing but mire. Your mind is going absurd with paradise.  

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