Greetings from a mound

by Claire Stringer

Perched atop a heap of dirt and crunchy chip bag ghosts,
with my body configured into a squat	
      built to spew,
I turn my watery eyes
to the sleepy Rajasthani sky
and I think about Prince Andrei	
and the dubious yellow lumps of sugar
that are being born again 
      out of my mouth
            and I hear your wild, scratchy laugh
            jouncing around the stars.

Your body lies 		closer 		to here
than it does to 		California
and perhaps, in the receding void
	of this horizon hole
some slice of black 		lingers

over some 	remains		of your goofy grin
and maybe you can see me gagging,
poised above 
my liquid hot inner gurglings ——
	nothing will be a new pose for you.

I wipe my mouth with 
the back of my hand
and wonder why I never lose
weight from food poisoning		
in developing countries
and why you’ll never get morning sickness
        or any sickness
you’ll never feel your intestines roil
	or your spit grow cold 

my shirt has lived through
	three weeks of curry, sweat, and musty soap —
a rankness that you’ll never smell.
You’ll never affectionately call me 
a fucking idiot again.

The chai at this roadside bar
tastes like vomit		and I would prefer your
salty Pakistani chicken broth and Lipton tea 	any day
hey, how long is the walk to Karachi?
Dysentery is part of the experience.

I hope that you weren’t sitting
next to an angry man who ate a whole head
of cabbage while yelling at his wife
to make him a cheese sandwich,
and that there weren’t any babies on board.

Fog-encased mountains thick
with Ficus forests that absorbed us 
into their mystery 
and muddy bumbling adventures —
	those were our worlds.
Your mountain, I’m sure, is lovely
and glamorous
	(are there white cheeked bulbuls and cheer pheasants?
	Or, at least, hot tubs abrim with champagne?)
but my mental image
does not expand beyond
the scale of that thumbnail photo
and an aerial-view map
	(an aptly miniature size for you, buddy)

your plane, too, must have been that
of regular-sized proportions,
but sometimes objects appear
quite tiny from great distances.

Claire Stringer doesn’t change the station when Coldplay comes on the radio.

Back to Poetry.

Back to Issue 6.