Whenever I meet with natural beauty / I know
once again human life today / must and will be /
changed. —Nazim Hikmet
Crossing Queensborough Bridge, I dream
your gallery: Gaea, Arete, Aphrodite—
portraits of goddesses propped against rails.
With blazing frankincense grains, you singe
features into olive-wood slabs.
The cinnamon shading
of their faces is the cinnamon eclipse
of your eyes. You tell me
the Turks of Central Asia fed the tongues
of larks to children too timid
to speak. Those children then spoke in poems.
I recite Human Landscapes from My Country,
adding how I admire Hikmet &
how all poets are exiles. You declaim
“Penelope’s Despair,” by Ritsos, shadows
of wings tangling with her tapestry’s
red & green threads, her loom
a cage she willingly reenters each night.
I say the world is text & we read it.
The world is history & we bleed it.
I say, I’m unable to love. Love me.
We stand above the bridge, peering down,
the East River rippling below us—
hair of a deity about to breathe.