from the Ivory Coast
by Matthew Keenan
In yellow dust
a blade stabbed to its hilt
in rising ground that mounts like a cathedral
kept my body tranquilized
while a burglar had his will.
The sound of a skeleton key in the lock
broke the meniscus of my sleep.
My eye attent like quicksilver in a spoon
she held me taut.
Come O Aminata, Ivorian flower, come
hair : a sculpture of wool
body : dryad form in a wet dress
essence : sauce claire on yam foutou
bridal price : four young bulls
It is the practice
of the Yacouban witch
to boil her bloodied panties
in the water she uses
to cook the rice
she serves the man
who will become enamored of her
like a flea engorged
with dog's blood.
In Duékoué lives a man
with deeply furrowed brow
who walks the night dressed in white.
Out of the darkness I see
his form unfurling.
I felt the dread of an ambiguity
conceal itself before my eyes
in the purple dress she wore.
The eye does not follow what it has traced,
at dusk a whippoorwill skims the blades of grass.
I gazed into a pool from high
in a tree.
Rosecrucian apples had fallen into the pool.
I set in motion a wooden frame
hanging from a branch
not so much to catch the fruit
if ever one should fall
as to deflect it
make its trajectory oblique.
From a hole in the tree emerged
red foxes and white dogs.
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