by N. A’Yara Stein

A one mile island with two thousand people
is the place for men who don’t ask directions.
In that majestic soul of the beach
between houses, the sea folds in endless embrace.
A bus moves slowly through the swarm
of hundreds of bicycles on the streets
as clumps of naked boys begin to appear
on the sidewalk; women with long, loose hair
come out from cramped houses to stand around.
Old men who believe in the healing powers
of the first rain begin climbing the roofs
one by one; they are dark against a dark sky.
Without being able to understand
I am caught in the rhythm of the rain.
In a small city of amazing mess
with creole crackling all about him,
my husband grins through a tobacco haze
like the pale disc of sun that lurks behind
thin clouds – a doubloon under gossamer silk.
He peels an orange into a flower
and feeds me in the street, undoes my hair.
This sun looks down on the people dancing
and blesses them with a fine melody
that time cannot silence, a melody
that will go on as long as these things matter.

Born in Memphis, N. A’Yara Stein was a nominee for the 2011 Pushcart Prize and a finalist in the 2011 National Poetry Series for her manuscript, “Saudade.” Nominated twice for the 2010 Pushcart Prize by Apparatus Magazine and Vox Poetica, she holds an MFA from the University of Arkansas and is a grant recipient of the Michigan Art Council and the Arkansas Arts Council, among other honors. The former editor of the arts quarterly Gypsy Blood Review, Stein has recently published in Verse Wisconsin, The Mayo Review, Ping Pong: The Journal of the Henry Miller Library, The San Pedro Poetry Review, The Delinquent (UK), among others. She lives near Chicago with her sons. Read her poem “The Clarity of Troubled Love,” published here last April.

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