Monday Apr 22

NezhukumatathilAimee Aimee Nezhukumatathil is the author of the poetry collections, At the Drive-In Volcano, winner of the Balcones Prize, and Miracle Fruit, which was named Poetry Book of the Year by ForeWord Magazine and the winner of the Global Filipino Literary Award. Other awards for her writing include a poetry fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts and the Pushcart Prize. Her third collection of poems, Lucky Fish, is forthcoming from Tupelo Press in 2011. She is associate professor of English at SUNY-Fredonia and lives in Western NY with her husband and two young sons.  Visit her web site at



Lobison Song
I can’t hardly believe my geriatric and deaf dachshund
with three inch-long legs is in any way related to a wolf.
But then she walks in circles on her round, tufted bed
and tamps it down, suddenly she is lupine—flattening
out tall prairie grass for a bed of her own. In Argentina,
the seventh son in a family was assumed to be a lobison,
a werewolf. So many furry babies were drowned or left
in a field. In the 1920s, a law said that the country’s president
was the automatic godfather of the seventh son, thus
ensuring their protection. My son was born with lanugo—
fine hairs like a furred stem of daisy—across his shoulders
and on the tops of his ears. It vanished after the first
few days, but I can still recall the exact pitch
of his call, roiled from his slick throat. His
was a song of cherries and milky opals—
all gemstone and berry. All fur, quickstep, and howl.

When my father wanted to point out galaxies
or Andromeda or the Seven Sisters, I’d complain
of the huzz of mosquitoes, or of the yawning
moon-quiet in that slow, summer air. All I wanted
was to go inside into our cooled house and watch TV
or paint my nails. What does a fifteen year-old girl know
of patience? What does a girl know of the steady turn
of a telescope dial until whole moon valleys crest
into focus? Standing there in our driveway with him,
I smacked my legs, my arms, and my face so hard
while I waited for him to find whatever small pinhole
of light he wanted me to see. At night, when I washed
my face, I’d find bursts of blood and dried bodies
slapped into my skin. Complaints at breakfast about
how I’d never do it again, how I have more homework
now, Dad, how I can’t go to school with bites all over
my face anymore.                    But now I hardly ever
say no to him. He has plans to go star-gazing
with his grandson and for once I don’t protest.
He has plans. I know one day he won’t ask me,
won’t be there to show me the rings of Saturn
glow gold through the eyepiece. He won’t be there
to show me how the moons of Jupiter dance
if you catch them on a clear night. I know
one day I will look up into the night sky
searching, searching—I know mosquitoes
will have their way with me
and my father won’t hear me complain.

Pie Plate

A housewarming gift from my turtle friend—
a guy who has no home himself: carries
all his possessions on his back. Can slip
into the sea or sun himself on the beach
whenever he pleases. He gave me this
red shell—inverted, it’s a drum—
the tink-tink-tink of cold ceramic and my spoon
like a calling for dinner, and especially, what comes
after. I love the promise of buttery crust and scoop
of fruit. I love what it smells like: home. Some
believe the turtle carries the whole weight
of the world. I want that turtle to put down
his pack tonight and join me at the table.
I promise him here and now that the next pie
made from this plate will pipe hot steamsongs.
Let the grace of my hands form a crust
so flakey and fine, he’ll forget his burden,
his heavy step. He won’t remember whether
or not he had seconds. Only the curve
of his spoon, the simple lattice of berries.

History of Green

The greeting of a tender coconut, its head sliced off
and a straw inserted inside its cool, juicy center.
Tiger shadows.

Stealing devil drinks from the garden hose.
Pressed catalpa leaves in my dictionary until they became
as thin as the pages themselves.
Karimeen with chilies and ginger, roasted and wrapped
in banana leaf by Grandmother.
Begonia bud I pop between my fingers when I watch MTV.
The silence after I find a snapped-off piece of iguana tail
on the hood of his car.
Sodalite vase full of clammy sand collected from beachy vacations.
A culvert giving itself over to flood.
A family of rabbits also giving themselves to flood.