After I Argued with Francisco during Dinner in San Miguel de Allende and He Dropped Something into My Diet Coke

My eyelashes fluttered, became butterflies,
cerulean and gold. They smelled like blueberries
so I plucked and ate them. The tortilla
I dropped tattooed a Mayan sun disk on my right ankle.
Drops of my blood splattered on the stripped floor,
became notes on a treble clef and sang La Bomba.
I leapt up, clicked my knuckles like castanets.
My blue jeans became a scarlet skirt.
I spun out into the night to the rhythm
of a painting by Frieda Kahlo,
whirled into El Jardin.

When I paid a pigeon cinco pesos
for three boxes of Clorets, it offered me wings
instead. I flew into the tower of La Parroquia,
pulled the ropes of all four bells. They were heavy
as Diego Rivera. When the bells rang, I jumped
onto the horse behind General Allende,
circling the park in his blue uniform.
Startled, the horse galloped fast
as the bite of a jalapeño. Francisco’s laugh,
an octave higher than bougainvillea,
turned his cigarette into a stick, his teeth,
to corn-on-the-cob. I smeared butter
and chili powder on them and sold his mouth
in the north-east corner of El Jardin.
I clapped. Skin dropped off my arms and legs.
My face became a candy skull. I hobbled home alone,
now a Katrina on skeletal feet.


 

 

Mowing

You have to walk the property
to get a feel for the shape of it,
a trapezoid filled with dozens
of trees.  Along one sloping side
rises a low ridge.  A two-lane
macadam fronts the longest side.
A farm field edges the shortest.

I dress in old clothes to mow
because the Yazoo is dirty
and greasy, its red paint faded
and peeling, the deck piled
with musty dried grass cuttings.

Filling gas tanks that look like
two saddlebags, I check the oil.
Then swing a leg over the center
post as I start up the engine,
which turns over with a snort
of smoke and an uncertain shudder
before settling into a mechanical roar.

Engaging the blades, I mindfully
settle into the task ahead of me,
starting a circuit of the property that
follows the bordering perimeter.
At each tree encountered, I swing
around its circumference, outside
leg hung out for balance as the
zero-turning-radius mower
makes its tight circle.

Daring the length of the slope,
I lean into its height as I travel
 the angling hillside.  I follow
the edge of each mowed swath
pass-by-pass as I continue to circle
the perimeter, slowly arcing inward.
Pass after pass.  Round and round I
mow, letting my mind wander as I go.

Moon Dust

For years he [the Nantucketer] knows not the land; so that when he comes to it at last,
it smells like another world, more strangely than the moon would be to an Earthsman.

                                                                         Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chapter 14

Moon dust has no salty scent,
no fishy smell, no reminder
of brine or earthly shoreline.

It does not smell like Kansas soil
awakening in spring,
or windblown Sahara sand.

Moon dust, the dust of broken molecules
smashed by eons of meteorite collisions
left with unsatisfied electron bonds

seeking partners, has no smell at all
when left in place as it was
for billions of years, dry and destitute,

but comes alive when touched by moisture
in a lunar lander or the mucus membrane
of an astronaut’s nose.

It smells something like fireplace ashes
sprinkled with water or the Indianapolis 500,
something like spent gunpowder

but unlike the smell of land or sea
on earth, our home. We only know
from the word of astronauts

who kicked up dust, who picked up dust
on space suits, helmets and boots,
who bottled dust and brought it back

to answer questions of the curious,
their fellow sailors on this little speck
in the vast sea of space.

~ Wilda Morris

[Originally published in Journal of Modern Poetry]

 

 

Fog

 Beginning with a line by Ellen Watson*
 
I am the age of my daughter who still loves fog,
but it is sun on the wooden porch I love,
the way heat pushes through my skirt into skin.
It is the rough bark of the apple tree scratching
my calf as I climb to a higher branch I love,
evening-damp grass as I roll down a hill,
cocoa hot enough to singe my tongue.
 
Fog is a curtain I cannot feel.
 
Wilda Morris
 
The first line is from the poem, “Glen Cove, 1957,” by Ellen Watson. "Fog" was first published by The Avocet.