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The Immigrant
In the South's long summer
the water-laden atmosphere
flows sluggishly, blurring the boundary
where blue sky breaks
from blue sea.

In waves of light over dry ground,
the heat entwines
into the sense of things,
into the disorientation after labor,
into the feel of the atmosphere
when emerging from shelter,

into the expression of a woman
who crosses the white shells of the driveway
to the green lawn,
to stand in unacknowledged bird-song
and chastise me
for weeding palm tree saplings
from a Camellia's shade.

A native to this place
she does not notice
the sound of birds,
the water in air,
the pressure of heat in light.

~ ~ ~

So unlike the northern forest,
with its shadows and long silence,
the sun and sea infuse
their urgency into the sense of things :
into plants like the morning glory,
that send their vines onto the lawn;
it charges the wisteria
to green purpose.

The humid air bears
the scent of camphor from the fence row,
a scent that sometimes enters
the bedroom window, subdued, irregular,
on a movement of air
almost too slight
to notice.

As tonight she drifts
beside me
in a shallow sleep;
her slow, even breaths, the shape
of an emotion,
that on occasion, wakes
with the suddenness
of birdsong at night,

startling the open window and the sleeping yard, moving
with the light course of fingers over the spine −
the backs of salmon churning
a snow-melt stream.

1st know version Aug, 1996
Latest version Jan, 2005
This poem is nearing completion
A Case for the Idols


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