lesotho flower
Photo by Catherine Brousse

     For Ivan, Eaten by the Tropics
     Ina Cumpiano

     In the moonlight, all things seem ordinary.
     Even the backyard ylang-ylang loses its yellow
     and pales by comparison but is not so pale,
     the sweet, pee-smell of its blossoms is overcome

     by night blooming jasmine, each white star,
     and the once-green rustle of its leaves darkens
     behind the coquí's froggy insistence. Long after
     the blood had thinned, we could still hear

     the warfarin pop of the mouse, delicate
     in the amapola hedge, and the warm air ripened;
     the roots of the benjamin laurel writhed, broke
     through the cement sidewalk where you once

     wrote our names with a stick. Around us, the heavy
     narcotic scent of inchoate hope. We couldn't parse,
     let alone spell out loud the intricacies of desire.
     We were, what? fourteen? --and still breathing.