Thursday, June 19, 2008


The Backwards Map

shapeless and stained, how my sister gave the man with three burros
directions, what the girl with the red kerchief around her neck meant

when she smiled and pointed to the broke-down bus, the sky, a boarded-up
gas station, a pile of black gears the size of hands, a no-name country,

the absent smell of gas, the scent of oranges being peeled by sweating
hands, rocky streets with grey felt hats pulled down, eyes so dark

its-good-to-see-you and we're-not-speaking the same black look when lids
peel back, old women on stools selling peeled mangoes in buckets, tying

and retying braids as black as burnt fuel, hips spread like buckets
of rising bread, why the tourists in their go-carts forget what indigo and

come here mean, how commands and pleas fall into disuse, everything
reduced here to a simple statement: the man rode his bike to the river

and the store lacks eggs and peppermint, how, in street children's dreams,
a third language surfaces, multi-hued, prickly, for some the words

are feathered, for some underwater,  how, for my sister, the tongue
is stuck, sleeping under netting, in the heat and muck


Sorry for the neglect. I had my purse stolen (which takes sooo much time to respond to) and I've been ill. Quite ill.


shug said...

Can't make my mind up about the stuck/muck thing at the end but this is a beautiful poem.

Not good getting your stuff nicked, with all the ensuing trauma of cancelling your cards et al. I had my bag stolen last June, full of poems only. Felt a bit sorry for the miscreant: can't feed the kids on dud lyrics. I should know.

Valerie Loveland said...

Did they steal your purse while you were carrying it?

The Backwards Map is a great title.

I hope you feel better!

Collin said...

Sorry to hear about your purse and your illness, but, as always, excited to read new poems from you. This is really excellent.

greg rappleye said...

I like your poem and hope you are feeling better soon.

Radish King said...

Hope you are feeling better.

Christine said...

Thanks, Shug. That last rhyme was a little too heavy, huh? Stolen poems. Wow. I can only hope that they were enjoyed.

Val -- they stole my purse while it was under my table at a restaurant. Snatched it and I didn't even know it until I went to leave.

Collin -- thanks so much for your nice words about my poem -- the lines are supposed to be in couplets, but they won't fit exactly in blogger.

Greg -- thanks for your kind words and well -wishes; I am feeling better!

Ms. Radish -- thanks so much!!!! I love it when you comment. And I am feeling better, thank you.