The Many Stars

Because in your passage you have not become laurel or rose or hyacinth, and stars are incomprehensible formulations of gas (which last night peacefully lit up the revolving sky) and not the souls of those departed, I do not know what has become of you. Even here it seemed you existed on a different plane, moving over everything self-sufficient as roses, silent, intelligent, austere, with a masculine indifference which suddenly would erupt into laughter. The cruelty is that nothing changed when it seemed as if everything had changed. You were not the center around which the invisible axis turned, no rain of flowers fell over everything, the irises did not close, did not shut, your thread unraveling, unraveling… Yesterday in a field of trees like copper an old abandoned mission made of limestone with the roof half sagging in, half gone, four ceiling beams exposed to the sky like a large animal’s rib cage. When I pulled out one small stone wedged between the mortar, the slightest pressure of my fingers turned that piece of house into dust.

Giant, Red Hibiscus

I wish you were here waiting with me in my mother’s garden. The early morning sunlight has splintered through the fence, has every leaf glittering.

I am waiting for the giant, red face of the hibiscus to open.

And I would like to watch you watch the hibiscus in early morning, how it changes from some seemingly red, dead-looking thing into the most beautiful bloom on earth.

I’m sorry, I forgot. I meant the second most beautiful thing.

How many times have you said that I never share anything with you, that I never tell you what’s important to me? Well, here it is. The hibiscus, I mean.

When I saw it yesterday for the first time I remembered difficulty. And I wanted you to see it.

I wanted us to watch something open and not be afraid.

–Travis Ian Smith

Travis Ian Smith, a recent graduate of the MFA in Creative Writing program at Southwest Texas State University, currently lives in Austin, Texas. His poems have recently appeared in the Red River Review, the Austin Chronicle, and The Grasslands Review. In 1999 and 2001, he was a finalist for the “Discovery/The Nation” poetry prize. He is currently at work on a poetry manuscript entitled The Salt Flowers.

–Naomi Shihab Nye