Botanical Garden

The winter is still
and snowed flowerbeds are dreaming
of the butterflies drawn
on the windows of the hothouse
where the red lips of Anthurium
lean towards Aglaonema.
Dendrobium is calm and sorrowful
and prim is Paphiopedilum insigne.
Laelia anceps opens its rose enigma and is wed
to Begonia Bettina.

I see Ms. Tomson walking from the porch
to take a tidy look at Clerodendron,
already cared for, watered and left to blossom
by the gardener with beads of sweat
maturing on his glistening forehead.
Meanwhile the colonel wearing a shining, creaking helmet
is out in the garden,
caressing Acalypha with his yellow finger.

Remember how we were disappearing
in Hovea Belmor forests,
inhaling an insane female aroma of Hoffmania discolor.

The end of list. It’s January, night.
Grandfather has just finished his translation.
Machine gun series of the old steel Underwood
are still reverberating in the air.
Grandmother smokes her cigarette,
and from my bed
the world is wavy, gray and flowing
on the black-and-white lactating screen.

The snowflakes long for light
and merge with the list of solemn Latin names,
with the vaporizing smell of Eucalyptus:
sweet influenza of childhood
set in the freezing desert of the Eurasian city.

Bayou Magazine, 4/30/03

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