We’ve slipped the clocks back to fool
the darkness, though it is never misled—
The script says, upon getting up we must then
joyfully put our hands together at the sight
of sunlight. Year after year, I’ve tried
to perfect such a skill. But today
when I held out my hand for the woman
painting mehndi, she drew scallops
and lines that circled my wrist
like a net. I turned it this way and that,
mud-colored fish delighting in scales.
Thus everything swirls into a tight
bud of shadow, then fans out as
abundance of arabesques. Beautiful night,
gradually I learn to lean my weight
like the honeysuckle does at the edge
of the trellis, though my throat
wants to open like the flower that blooms
only a few times each year. To desire
like that— to look forward to one brilliance
after fifty weeks of whispering little
or sweetest darling.
Or to lie quietly in the cell, listening
for the one that utters her true name.

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