In a Levantine land

her lips are filled with milk and honey.


I approach with laughter, cymbals, ankle-bells,

with horses, flutes, basil and marjoram,


coming as a guest, coming as a caravan.

Chilled infusions of hibiscus await, blood red.


I come to her incomplete, a chrysalis.

If I am silk,


she will nurture me on her mulberry skin

until I burst into ecdysis.


She sits cross-legged inside her pavilion,

its gossamer curtains shadow


color-striped walls, wind

from the west lifting her henna-red hair.


“Men,” she smiles, “men are like dogs — call they come,

throw stones they run.”


She captures with silk: A guest and a fish each lasts three days,

“But we can always find another fish.”


Princes amuse, Queens are her friends. Every child

dreams of the Empress — radiant beneath her rainbows.


Some mistake her clarity for cruelty:


“Are you fasting, Sister,” asks the man with dark,

melodic eyes. “Not if I lay the table,” she replies.


On that day it ends, as one day it must,

she expects I will be brave.


Take me and plant me in her land.


Say lemon-tree.  Say lavender.

Cold moon.  Stone arch.  Oregano.