Today's poem is by Ariana-Sophia M. Kartsonis

Litote, Smoke Trees, Fireworks Over Water

Gorgeous emptiness you've been here all along,
splintering off a flame-thrown night somewhere.

A red one first: a tasseled crimson pom-pom.
A green chrysanthemum spirits out then

sputters down. Then light rain strings lake to sky.
After, the kind that open like a hand,

sprinkle a slow handful of foil confetti.
Next, a gaslight crown spurts blue: volcanic

bloom, a gush of blood from a well-deep wound.
But, like the right dress, isn't it so me

that it's not the fireworks that move me
but the smoke after, when the night becomes

a kimono stitched in vines of used light.
I mean, a garden of them grew from nothing.

First, flowers made of fire. Afterwards, smoke.
The sky up there, the lake's other sky. Both

make the city brocade, then brocade in-
to a world reflected so there are two,

and not one of them habitable. This past
year's written out in the longhand up there.

What flowers now flowers in burnt air
punctuated with spent light, ash, cinder.

For emphasis, note: an orchid of smoke.
Exegesis: see us here below: footnotes

to the dandelion asterisks blown
just a moment ago. Just yesterday

wasn't it high noon? Wasn't vacancy
a motel's yes? The bedspread, the same blue

as our blue-faced sky freckled with starlings?
One face holds a skyful of lost balloons.

One night's a kimono with worlds repeated
in its pattern. I envy them: vanished

rings, pistils, roundels, palms, like I envy
geese for belonging to nothing but sky

and water. And now, white poppies burn off
the gunpowder sky. I wanted to wear it,

wrap the whole clothy mess around me, and walk
across the bridge, wearing ashes of roses,

smoke lilies, asters, the little village,
and the people dragging like a bridal train.

I am thinking of your mother dying
in that dark kimono robe that held slim

ornaments of history, odd villages,
embroidered cherry blossoms, peonies,

bamboo, and another plant that reminds me
of a smoke tree—those desert shrubs that slouch

in their aridity. That sky in the lake
must know the other sky this way. Inside

me is the pocket mirror of how you felt.
Her dying every day in a robe that held an Orient

of loss. I am the lake face spitting back
the smoke vineyard, the flashpowder moon,

the spangled, ghostly space we leave behind
threaded in smoke-white through the satin lake.

She pulled a used and tired sky around her
body and took worlds away with her.

Copyright © 2006 Ariana-Sophia M. Kartsonis All rights reserved
from Intaglio
Kent State University Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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