Sharon Israel

Aunt Wapiti – Woman with Antlers

Auntie dresses in shot 
lavender silk, careful 
not to rip the precious frock 
on her plush-boned head.

Oh, for a nice cup of tea!

Auntie likes to sit sedately 
in the withdrawing room, 
ecru ribbons festooning her antlers.

Her guests arrive. 

They watch Auntie’s  
sapien fingers detach 
skewered scones and cakes 
from her thorny crown, 
nestle them on plates alive 
with woodland scenes. 

Often, on wash day,
Auntie stands
amid fresh breezes 
while doilies and tea 
towels dry on her
bony effusions.

“Where is the window to my heart?”

Auntie remembers her birth,
placenta covering 
her like an umbrella.

Love Dream in a Time of Isolation
I will not be crushed with loneliness, 
with ziggurats of desire thwarted by destiny.  
The tea ceremony will not be covered in ash.

We will meet in mists of rousing thunder. 
In clouds of cinnamon and oolong, of nutmeg
and anise. On fire ships before we die, 

on mother ships before we were born, 
on baroque barques of pearl and amethyst.
Jade will steer us into the open lotus, 

the ephemeral comet. Honey locusts
will occupy eternity in the next room 
while we eat almonds and currants 

inside a ruby volcano.  You will be
the triumph of my floating world
the silver ghost in my kaleidoscope 

of moths.  I am your prey.  You are 
my bird of paradise, topaz, shining, 
shifting my heart into the lifting light. 

Air Mail Envelope
Green ink block letters.  Correo Aéreo in cramped black ink, underlined by sumi-e slash that starts strong, then fades away like skywriting.  Candy cane border.  Dolphin’s head, faintly visible.  Can dolphins fly?  On the stamp, etched in red, thousands in a stadium. Clouds overhead.  Official black ink circle, September 11, 1972, the year the South Tower rented to tenants for the first time. 
It sits in my hand like the ghost of a carrier pigeon.  The return address, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico, is 2,474 miles from lower Manhattan.  No scent remains of either place, but its thin touch heats my memory - blue-throated peacocks in hacienda gardens suddenly display a green redolent of earth’s true life, spangled with jewel-eyed feathers – until onionskin bursts iridescent, flakes of color cover my eyes.

She remembers knobby
stubs piercing skin,
new vascular velvet                      insatiable for blood.
Blood stolen from new
breasts, widening hips.

It was time now 

for attar of marsh, wetland, 
time to stretch 
like a quadraped, 
to forage dawn and dusk 
for grasses, shrubs and forbs. 

To revel in the clash of horn.