Houri’s Lament

They tell me of their love before they ever hear me speak

Once during Holy Week a rich man climbed out of his car
& flopped down in the street in front of me like a toad
I wanted to turn & run all the way to my village

My mother’s worked hard every day of her life
counting out grains of rice
& that man was kind though I wouldn’t take the bait
I stirred cream into my coffee for one whole month

The poor ones usually think they’re poets
with tangled nets of rhyme
catch gazelle’s eyes swan’s neck beehive breasts feline hips
& limbs like golden fish
until it seems every part must fly off to its own heaven

Sometimes the tough ones moan like gelded calves
or even weep like our blessed Lord

I’ll marry the first man who asks me what I think


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