So Spring blossomed in spite of itself.
Uniform skirts up-rolled high by wild girls
curbside, smoking. Still, two of us, heads
together, translating. Our selves as Stoic
teens, thinking Marcus, Marcus A.!
So: month of rose pagodas, of lilacs
impetuous, blue. Twigs spill from
her dropped text, as she flees
translation class, the nun’s query.
He demanded her name first. Just
steps from the bus stop. Sunset:
shade before ancient dark. Blossoms
beneath her, beneath the shock-light of
staggered street lamps coming on. Leda’s
Zeus, his suit & tie, swan’s hiss in her ear.
She told me only. The great wings of
aloneness closed in us, we learned how
the passive voice was magnified: “The soul
is dyed with the color of its thoughts.”
Powerless to move, she became past
tense of strength once standing tall
at her father’s grave. His name in brass
florets. But Latin offhand—“to seize or
abduct.” Ovid’s shudder: Vos mos non
sit sponsa . . . Once we might have found it
funny: You will not be a bride, you will be
a tree. At each ring where her flesh became
bark, a path opened: root split. Some
believe that anger can take the place of
love. She found the verb for it. Having to
do with the forest & a young girl running fast,
calling out—then silence. Becoming as she
had, one of them, reaching skyward. Their
witness, bowing. Those wings hidden in
the tree, meaning she was not ready to be
cut down, not ready to be chopped into little
sticks & tossed into fire’s assumed supremacy—
all that smoke, her ashes refusing to fly.