Today's poem is by Lisa Furmanski


despite bounty, despite the unyielding
             grasses and sedge, a starvation

like drowning in air, leaf after leaf discarded
             from the fig even as it strangles

a bole stretching one last branch to the canopy;
             despite jackfruit dangling,

swinging, dehiscing and spitting juice
             on the path while monkeys, sky-high, uncase nuts and resin;

despite epiphytic orchids gorged on humidity,
             despite upward liana, gaudy spirals dropping unaltered,

and the white mushrooms, studded with small white gems, almost confection
             crusted on buttresses—here we stop

for water, sweating and light-
             headed, the scandent walls of the trail thick

with lantana and oleander, shreds of fallen
             leaves, the drip-drip-drip of water:

only one possible path then,
             the used one tunneling

into growth so rapid, ravenous, and tightly
             shut that we thirst

and endure—

sharpen at noon, trunk-shaped like a narrow
             door, shaped like limbs

or a throat full of water;
             water is both source and shadow,

both bright exposure and its paired lightlessness—
             someone dies

and someone's shadow
             blamed—all mingle in the lit

and unlit, all of us hungry,
             distracted by abundance while our shadows

sever from their sources,
             and vanish into angles of the forest

Copyright © 2004 Lisa Furmanski All rights reserved
from Beloit Poetry Journal
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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