Back to Issue Forty-Four

Duende with Poppies



Orange heads atop too-thin necks,
crepe petals I want to pluck and eat, their orange
a sherbet, a mango skin I want to split
to suck the seed, its juice running down my arms.

Rothko orange, neon orange, orange I’d wear
in deep summer,
orange the sunlight would be
if given a choice. A chorus of baritones,
a few tambourines.

Orange cardigan my sister wore, lounging
in my dream last night, her hand trailing
the petals—she sang the song we all sang
as children before we knew what the Spanish
meant—such joy for a man dying in war!
If a field
covered the entrance to the underworld, its grass
would be orange—this orange, the orange of street cones
blocking unfinished roads—the same orange
hunters wear to announce they exist.
DEFCON orange,
fleeting orange
that the breeze peels back
to a merlot heart that clenches, releases,
before the blossom flutters shut.


Helena Mesa is the author of Horse Dance Underwater and an editor for Mentor & Muse: Essays from Poets to Poets. Her poems have appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Indiana Review, Pleiades, Prairie Schooner, the Academy of American Poets’ “Poem-a-Day” series, and elsewhere. She lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and teaches at Albion College.

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