Monday, December 14, 2009

Return to the Country of My Birth

As I arrive in my old country
the smell of ripe mangoes
welcomes me.
In the fruit trees
sated birds sing:
“It’s a good season,
food is abundant,
in many flavors.”

At home awaits an e-mail
from my friend Tatiana:
“I am sad--my brother
was killed in the war.
I’ve returned from the country
of our birth to the cold north.”

Later, lured by the smell
of honeysuckle,
I walk in the garden
of the ancestral home.
The air teems with black moths.
Moistened by moon glow
the cannon balls glisten,
hibiscus offer
their lustrous red tongues.

When the moon transits
out to sea, in the high branches
vampire bats feed on
broken-necked nightingales,
and the stars’ light reveals
corpses lounging on the grass,
ruby hearts cupped
like split-pomegranates
in their hands.

Back in the house
I answer my friend’s e-mail.
“All these dead people
among the plants,
are too much for my first
night back home.
Sorry, but I
did not recognize
your brother among them.
Twenty years away,
I have forgotten
the customs of this place.”

Published in Gival Press, 2005