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Saffron

Poetry & Prose | April 11, 2016

“I had no idea that the gate I would step through

to finally enter this world

 

would be the space my brother’s body made.”

 

-Marie Howe, “The Gate”

 

Fields of saffron brush

sprout tender from his soles, both mounted

on tendons like finely strung

threads, precious and crimson

and snapping

 

He works with wrist and spine

the radius he forms

 

collapsing into itself, curving

to bring mouth to food.

 

We seek our salvation

in that curvature, disbelief

 

at the energy of this earth to form

such holy structures

in destructible places.

 

We chant around him gathering water and wood, trading spices for coins.

 

My mother, waxen

burns and slows

in shadows—

 

eyes slanted always to the Gods

she keeps in our closets,

seated surely and counting

 

with rhythm so still, patient

I expect to pick sparrows from her hair.

 

When I was young she’d encase me in orbits

of sugar and tea leaves.

 

Now I lie here naked in my limbs—temple

incense burning around me

 

waiting to be preserved, dark

emeralds in my mouth:

 

my thoughts fizzing.