Sholeh Wolpé

Issue #
September 7, 2014

The House on Stilt Legs

I have just arrived, and the air is wet.

The breeze lifts up my skirt

to have a look.

The neighbors file in, bring

baked plantains, chickpea roti,

goat curry so spicy my eyes melt.

They finger my curls, touch

my long black eyelashes.


In the street, boys hiss

at my back with lips, tongue,

and breath. Young men

emerge skinny and dark,

from among tall sugar cane

fields, machetes in hand.

Just for you, they say, and pull out

long, clean, fat stalks, bleeding

sugar from the cut.

The four-leaf clover holes that line

the edges below my bedroom ceiling

are portholes to the stars.

Fireflies come in with the breeze,

turn my mosquito net into a green-

flashing southern sky. I tell them

about Tehran’s dusty streets and high

walls, gardens where every tree steals

innocence from eyes, where every rose

offers her thorns to stitch mouths,

where crows blacken the sky snitching

on the comings and goings of the moon.

Poems selected from: Keeping Time With Blue Hyacinths, University of Arkansas Press, 2013

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