Car si près que tu sois l’air circule entre nous.
Ivy, martial victory, sister,
stranger, all at once become a presence:
How can I decipher your barbaric,
violent language forcing my frontiers
and drawing blood, a challenge I cannot
even use my legs to escape from!
What eyes, what hands – surely not mine – would be
capable of seeing you as only touch,
as beauty made flesh, disclosed upon my belly,
no questions asked? I cannot stop myself
longing for the ears that strained to catch
your voice, when you were nothing but the shadow
of a murmur of high leaves inside my body,
desire, smoke signals that traversed the wood
from one side to the other, sound of drums,
open, far off, a dove with a white beak
where I inscribed, using an alphabet
of plants, your message, living poem that
did not demand an answer like the one
I now know I don’t have. And, nonetheless,
victory is the name that I bestow
upon you, martial ivy, sister, stranger.