Day Trip to La Calera

Vista de La Calera

Names of Flowers

The windows of Yes’s trapezoidal living room
display 180 degrees of Andes Mountains and pasture.
I stand beside the glass.
The mist moves so quickly over the hills,
it looks like they are fuming from some indeterminate fire.
I see my reflection superimposed over the smoke.
Am I burning? Can anything grow
from land that weeds have already raked with bad habits?
Yes cares for dogs when their owners are on vacation.
Four-legged friends scamper happily
through the grass, through the yellow flowers
I am sure are dandelions,
or Dientes de Leon, “Lion’s Teeth.”
They are the same as the white ones you blow on,
I explain with certainty to Felipe, who is doubtful.
He is sure they are two different kinds.

No one knows my real name here.
They don’t even know how to pronounce my new one:
most people call me China, which is another way to say
“Girl.” They only see the yellow petals of my newness.
Earlier, Tania and Felipe and I spread out on our bellies in a field,
counting yellow-green spiders. When we tired of talking,
we stuck long-stemmed, purple flowers in our mouths,
as if they had bloomed straight from our lips.

“Yes” is a nickname for Inés. She tells me she loves all
her dogs equally. She is a garden. I call to her,
“Si!” she responds.
I ask her which bottle of wine she suggests we open next.
“Si!” she responds.
We are somewhere beyond “No.”
Everyone is a flower with their tongue out,
ready for gifts from the sky. The dew
is fond of everything, indiscriminately.
“Girl–” she says to me. “—That is how I say your name, no?”

I knew a man who once planted sunflowers
in a crack in the Minnesota ice.
I saw pictures, but never found out what became of them.
When the brown palates of seeds are too cold to make plans,
when the winter blocks out the light and the blossoms
go cross-eyed trying to figure out where to look,
are they still called, ‘Sunflowers?’
If you plant a woman in a new land,
does she become a girl? New?
Hummingbird ready? How hard
do you have to huff and puff on lions’ teeth
and clenched fists to send them back
to where they came from?
To make the idea of a better self come true?

The sound of this Girl
blows from her lips like dandelion seeds
to my side of the room beside the window.
I am somewhere
between identities planted by strangers
and mountains who couldn’t care less
what you are called;
what they, themselves, are called.


One thought on “Day Trip to La Calera

  1. I think I’m a gonna have to
    read this a coupla times to make way
    through the layers of metaphoric symbols.

    I wonder if you might have more than one poem here.

    I have added:
    “Yes cares for dogs when their owners are on vacation.”
    to the bank of sentences that rank as awesome,

    I’m glad to hear you have time to roll around in the mountains
    to lie back and grow flowers of yourself,
    to ponder identity.

    Maybe it’s time to stop all of this monkey business
    and take yourself seriously:
    stop delaying the inevitable.

    I am glad to hear
    you have metaphors
    to make your flower self grow: that’s good wine.


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