Binhi*

Silene stenophylla


It took 32,000 years for you to thaw
from the ice shelves at Duvanny Yar,

for you to flower again out of the fruit
and its seed. Narrow-leaved campion, awake

now from your long fossil sleep, at what point
did you give up counting the bars that built up

layer by layer in the cell that housed you?
Each of your white petals is clear-edged,  

as if a stencil lifted up in reverse, 
washed with the simple color of certain 

stone houses in villages by the sea. 
The ice couldn't kill you, nor the more 

terrifying frost of darkness. I don't know 
how long I could hold myself still, or quiet 

the boil in my cells; if I could outlive 
the solitude that I know can protect one 

from the onslaughts of weather and every
kind of unknowing. Even in sleep, my body

gives itself away with its little spasms,
its miasma of dreams. I close my eyes

in one country, then row in the blurry
current toward the island shape of another. 

It's always there, half-hidden in the jambolan-
tinted distance, though the world rocks like

a cradle on the back of a tortoise, 
its delicate roots clawing the air.

***

Binhi (Tagalog/Filipino) - seed

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