Baby, since we moved here, a jungle
has grown up the topography of my ankles—
wee sylvan leaves, tiny blooms of pink,
imp beetles, bantam millipedes,
tiny coils of venomous snakes.

In this arid space around my head,
I don’t concern myself with lower parts.
So clear around my nose and eyes—
thin air, heady views, a culture based on facts.
Most of the day, I look up and out. I think dry thoughts.

Though in the fertile farmland of my middle
the place where greens and grains are tended
by some kind of serfy staff, the fecund places,
the irrigated orchards, I do cultivate there
with seasonal attention. Before you visit, for example.

You and your sandy shore.
Your little ships, your sparkle harbors,
your tidy streets and well-lit civic spaces,
all the industries you’ve built, the progressive policies
of you, the stable currency of you, your tight borders.

Sunset over the beach of you.
Swimming in the dark of you.

What is love but a calamity of place and time?
A mess of beasts and climate, a fragile peace
among growth and dirt and time.
Come home, baby. Let’s draw maps, drink wine.

About the author

Lisa Allen Ortiz has been shot at on the mountains of Peru and held by INTERPOL on suspicion of drug smuggling in Columbia, but…

Read the full bio

Issue 20 · May 2014

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