On Visiting the Franklin Park Conservatory & Botanical Gardens
By Khaty Xiong
I have come to collect the various species of America:
ruby-spotted, tigers, kites & pipevines — an armory
of wings & two-week bodies. The room swells openly
& I ascend to the top —
I am separate from the boy
who swats persistently.
Tucked in the corner of a window, a white morpho,
the only kind to perch long enough for me to satisfy
my collecting — its lunar afterglow still hanging
as I pulse & pace to get a closer look.
I am separate from the boy who climbs a nearby tower
& shouts for his father.
Perhaps I am half of this — a set of dots for eyes,
spine for spine, my insides half my father’s —
half my mother’s. Kuv tus ntsuj plig unlike the fate
of quick bodies, sovereign cavities, mother
whose torso fell early in harvest — a bed of muscle
to hold her from splitting in two —
& do we hear it?
As in a fever the boy runs back & does not see
the white morpho the way I must see it:
my personal moon stone-ripe in this foreign corner,
mother as fauna forever — inhuman & gazing.
Then my body a chariot pulled by a pair of orange helicons
sweeping towards the main water feature (complete with koi).
This place in which I dream the new body — whole & abiding —
I am reaching for the boy now as warden to both the living
& the afterliving — the privilege in every gesture — like mother’s
first gifts: name & citizenship, poetry always in departure,
the song about the moon falling over, fast in flames —