knowing the hibiscus

Hibiscus print

I
(After Olympia)
Redundant against alabaster skin
A maid’s obsidian face looks on
A hint of pink reflected in bloodshot grey-green eyes
Embroidered upon the gold silk shawl beneath limbs in an attempt to alter fading beauty
The hibiscus slowly dies

II
Petals as crayons
In the centre of the hibiscus
Offer enough for man to make his mark

III
He saw only grey tones but fell upon his bed of grey
Softer-than-rose-petals
With his lover in the heat of the afternoon
The hibiscus never tells

IV
Popsicle lips at lunch time
The hibiscus lies on the plate
With the remnants of a picnic.

V
Once the settlement has been made
In a café neutral to both
The only beauty left is the
Colour of her lipstick
Matching the single hibiscus
In a vase on the table

VI
Hibiscus mountain
Ant hotel
Day travellers only
Food supplied

VII
She painted hibiscus once
They turned out really really beautiful
Even though they were just for a sign
For Kerry’s mum’s bathroom

VIII
After recording the introduction
Of two new species
Hibiscus Tiliaceaus
And
Beach Hibiscus (Lo)
Captain John Marshall
Is glad to be on land

IX
Each morning Ganesh offers Shiva
Small plates of hibiscus
And together they bless
Those who remember

X
She reminded him of
Hawai’ian Glory
As she walked towards him
In her new dress

XI
My grandmother has hibiscus hands
This year,
Mine began to change

XII
He remembered the girls of his youth
With hibiscus petticoats
And nylon knickers

XIII
Whale song is lost
On the hibiscus and frangipani petals
Floating in the ocean
In the afterquiet of a Tsunami

XIV
Roses are thrown in with the soil
The pendulous hibiscus
Growing in the sounds of sorrow
Reaches out to the mourners
As they walk slowly back to their cars

XVI
The over-ripe papaya smashes to the ground below
Bleeding into the red dirt
A child’s silent screaming is heard only by
The hibiscus still, in its crimson tears
Beneath the bedroom window

XVII
Monkey wakes and smiles at the gods
Monkey steals peaches
Monkey picks hibiscus from the Jade Emperor’s garden
I am monkey

XVIII
Kopper King, Southern Belle
Lord and Lady Baltimore
He calls her Sweet Caroline
Their union is more of a Fireball than Regal

XIX
How
I
Behave
Is
Strangely
Conventional
Under
Supervision

XX
Their love was daffodils and
Christmas lights, their laughter was
The beck at the end of the road, gently bubbling
Their nighttimes were chocolate muffins and Milo
Their routine was fish and chips on a Friday
But, because all he ever wanted was
Hibiscus
He left her one night and took a plane
To an atoll somewhere in the Pacific.

Hibiscus print

Poem: Knowing The Hibiscus by J. L. Nash, first published under the Pen Name of Nellie Yetton in The Marshall Islands Literary Review, Al In Aelon Kein, 2005, Micronitor Edition, Editor P. K. Harmon

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