blackbird online journal spring 2002 vol.1 no. 1




That I could rub this belly and conjure
           a child before you go: golden bangle

on her fat wrist, saffron highlights in the sun.
           She won’t know she has your half-playful, half-

cruel knack for a joke, the same glossy hair
           that slips from a bun. Deft hands that shape foil

into swans or pull tomatoes from vines
           with gentle pressure. Later, she’ll feel your absence,

too. She won’t know that, years before
           you’d understand malaria or dengue fever

or neighbors gathering in lines to give blood,
           you sailed your road by boat

when the first floods rippled at your door.
           How you and three brothers gazed at the fish—

mercurial flashes. Light in the dark.
           She won’t hear the old stories: names

I can’t remember, places I’ve never been.
           You’ll return to her in the dryness

of bay leaves, the mingled scents
           of pepper dust and pine. She’ll measure spices

into pots in all the right combinations.
           It will take a lifetime to get it right. 

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