Rosemary Catacalos’ “Morning Geography”
for Naomi Shihab Nye
Suppose the flower rioting on my desk, its wild, shouting
yellow streaked with red and ruffled as an agitated jungle bird,
suppose this flower, large as my hand, could be pulled apart
and the sweetness wrung out the way we did honeysuckle so long
ago, rhyming summer nights with fireflies: This drop of honey
for courage, this drop of honey for love, this drop for anything
you are dreaming of…. Last night I dreamed a woman I love
(in Spanish we say dreamed with, soñe con Noemí) running flat out
through Texas sagebrush to save her Uncle Mohammed, who died
on a mountain in Palestine years ago, a hermit who wanted no saving.
Dreams are like this, make all things possible. The way just now,
still drugged with sleep, I supposed a loud flower could save us, tell us
something about sweetness when half a world away a man tends a fire
in the street before his tiny rug shop, a short distance from some broken
buildings. He breathes the thick signals of burning tires, decoy smoke
to make the bombers think they’ve already struck here. Suppose we could
have coffee with him, strong, laced with cardamom and small talk.
Suppose we’d figured out, on those immense and long ago
lost summer nights, how to get at the sweetness
without tearing the proud throat of even one blossom.
Catacalos has been a poetry fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Texas Institute of Letters/University of Texas, and the Stegner program at Stanford University. She was also an affiliated scholar at Stanford’s Institute for Research on Women and Gender. She is currently the Executive Director at Gemini Ink in San Antonio.
“Morning Geopgraphy” comes via Poets Against War.