Clade Song 7 Banner
Clade Song 7 left sidebar seal crane/piper llama

Clade Song 7

Their Names and Ears Had Been Erased

Yes, the sacred sash of eels keeps bleeding its mark across my forehead.
I am shunned as if I’d never been a fish.

There was the delicate feast, the bush fires near Mombasa ineffably cool.
There was the soon-to-be-plunged, the horizon of an amazing locust.

Give me an injection of morphine and say you’re sorry for avoiding the task of mending      a shirt.
Say you’re sorry for not recognizing my mouth or the ear cleaners, on a Bombay street,
     going deep.

When they brought the paper, no one knew why their names and ears had been erased.
Mumbai was sometimes Bombay. Banaras sometimes Varanasi.

One of us swore it had to do with a previous birth.
We couldn’t remember whether we’d been able to afford a coin to close the eye.

Everyone was misunderstood by everyone else, which meant we were not fish at all.
The electric tongue of some marvelous eel offered to swallow me chakra by chakra and
     mark me toward dissolve.

What was I doing when I’d devoted that one entire life to tending an anonymous tree?
I’d become a gardener, obsessed with Backflower and Ash, and would not allow a      single rib cut or branch to be burned or broken.

Clade Song 7 right sidebar hawk frog dog

George Kalamaras, former Poet Laureate of Indiana (2014-2016), is the author of fifteen  books of poetry, eight of which are full-length, including Kingdom of Throat-Stuck Luck, winner of the Elixir Press Poetry Prize (2011). He is Professor of English at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, where he has taught since 1990.