Susan Terris

September 18, 2012

Only the Oleander

Odd pendulum of pricked time. The pinked oleander
angles its false innocence. The armed cactus, with its
wren’s nest O, doesn’t warn of hair-like spines.

The desert is no place for the heart to feint.

In this dry air you could easily drown.
Too many unknowns: the bird calls, the footsteps.
Here only potted oleander has a name.

Native plants conceal themselves in heat-sheen.

This place, its glassed dome of sky pressing down,
releases the silhouette of your nameless lover:
receding shadow, unwanted scar across the morning….

Unknowable space, uncounted time.

Wasps have claimed the oleander, but the desert
admits no claims. Here you are
alone, singing a song without any words.

How can anyone know love in a place with no names?

No path, no message, no semblance of control.
Shake the dome, and sharp slivered rain may fall.
Or you might only fleck the air with ruddy dust.

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