logo image a digital codex of contemporary pan-american writing

Issue 20, Poesía | April 2017


Among the Natives (ii)

Observe, observe the doctor twisting in her smattering
of sunlight, the pensive hammering of her elusive tender fingers,
observe too the rosette of her birthmark flowering

for bees and glorious butterflies, for those pollinators

poised beneath her delicate earlobe —and she, within
the swirling-whir of insect-laden night, listening for
the scrape and scuffle of deadly spiders, the ker-

fuffle of moonrats, or perhaps, perhaps, her nail-

biting companion, a lean South Indian man, now
fervently East American (once turbaned a Sikh, wielding
daggers within his bird’s-nest of burdened hair),

tossing in his sleep to the hollow hoot of koels, or the boy

who knows no ladders lying between woman and man,
who was reared on scorpions and snakes and has mastered the art
of the flint-tipped spear, but still recalls

that bedtime rhyme, Milen, his Filipino wet-nurse
claimed drove off demons that grew within Javan
smog clouds: Ai-Li-Ma-Lu-Ma-Nu —and those half-days that sear

into weeks and those moth-eaten weeks that dissolve into dog-

eared months, here among the sickly, sticky natives, where a needle
is simply a bandied thread of hope and only he knows
there is no subtle knife to sever those rigid strings.
Among the Natives (ii)