Sunday, March 4, 2018

Spell Bee

I bite
into the word.

It tastes of hot summer sun
and thorny wood, staining
my tongue a deep leafy green

and leaching
vowels, the consonants
left bursting
like pink popping candy.

They say it's French, but
it is as much Kannada as it is
of love's language

for I buried it, once,
in a kindergarten playground,
with a half-remembered rhyme

ondu dina
peddana hendathi oblu
laddu maadidlu...

and I saw them
grow old, flowering
into memory.

I bite
into the word, or maybe
it bites into me.

When a wide-eyed five-year-old
grabs a prickly arm
of that great big tree

and bids it yield to her whim,
he nods assent —
slowly, lumberingly, but only

if she called him by his name.
Then, in a sudden blurry quiver
of brown, the earth shakes

and all that remains
is papery pink rain
against solid blue sky

crowning me princess
of a long-lost dreamland

as I spell
b-o-u-g-a-i-n-v-i-l-l-e-a

and dig up
the roots of all things.

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