LONGITUDE

by Devi S. Laskar 

(Published in the Squaw Valley Review)

Cast-iron castaway facing the latitude

of separation, of light; the heat it takes to cook

 

the blue in blueprints, the evanescent bliss

of marriage, how chocolate stains the soul,

 

the percentage error of sextants, how

archeological digs miss ruins by inches,

 

the moment eucalyptus trees bleach themselves

in sun-worship, and your ugly tendency to divest

 

everything you see; the mating calls of peacocks

and water buffalo; post-doctoral binges

 

when bourbon is synonymous with air and days

are spent naming muddy drinks after a tropical

 

depression; tambourines flashing onstage, deus

ex machina, elegy for the ex-lover;

 

the usury of astrology, my grandfather’s

kitchen superstitions; borrowed patience, borrowed

 

time, royal blue, everything’s old, nothing’s new;

the sea as witch hazel, round as a cat’s eye,

 

rusting sand in which we buried ourselves to the neck,

pirating cowrie shells, flirting with the ocean

 

foam; the migration of flamingos and orange

pickers and monarch butterflies; how we begin

 

to choose the moment of our emancipation

the first time we ride without training wheels,

 

without a daddy’s hand or a whistle-happy coach

nearby, when all that stands before us are oak-lined

 

roads, passing cars and sweet meadows, a valley

that dips its shoulder into a sea, windblown

hair and our bravado.