Landscape, with Chinese Lanterns

This entry is part 11 of 47 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2012


Some places might visit you only once, but their color stains you: one night lying
in a field of stars that prickled your nape, your head pillowed by the grass—

Or the cool of a morning, long ago in Provence: you flung the windows open and there it was,
Mont saint Victoire. I cupped my hands to my ears and listened to the wind in the grass.

Only a few days, not even a week: the road to town lined with Mexican cantinas, posters
of girls peeling from alley walls. Then the fountain of dolphins, and manicured grass.

Crowds in each sidewalk cafe; doves purpling the air. Water flowing toward
the sea, under the aqueducts. Ancient trees shading long avenues of grass.

And in St. Petersburg, beneath Kazansky’s shadowed colonnades, gypsy children
rushing at tourists reminded me of Manila: heavy air, dry wind in the grass.

And in the market, in Cotabato, bright threads tightly woven into malongs
by women’s hands. The smells of ripe jackfruit and durian, denser than grass.

I’m not there now, nor in the backyard of my childhood home— green fruit suspended
like ornaments from the trellis, the hum of insects screened through the grass.

In the heat, clusters of Chinese Lanterns rattle like pods; they sing This is it,
there is no rehearsal.
Gently I gather their coppery bones from the grass.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Series Navigation← Mortal GhazalAfter →

3 Replies to “Landscape, with Chinese Lanterns”

    1. Beth, thank you. I was just reading your Dream of the Bony Fish and was also thinking of using it as a poem trigger. :) Perhaps I’ll get to it yet. I love dream-stories.

  1. In Philadelphia many years ago
    even gypsy caterpillars seemed a cause
    for celebration, and cabbage whites,
    common as crab grass, almost like unicorns.
    How then could I respond to those
    infrequent visitors, black swallowtail or monarch,
    drawn by an errant milkweed growing
    in a vacant lot or sewer grate?
    I stalked them with my net,
    and finally caught a swallowtail,
    body bigger than my hand. Its splendid
    blue-black wings folded between my thumbs.
    It lived for weeks on nectar from a tube
    but all the while, it beat
    its useless wings against the screen.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.