With Two Camels and One Donkey
Art does not reproduce the visible, it makes visible.
May we walk into our lives as into a watercolor,
grounded in sunlight, with two large ruminants and a baying ass.
May we go by foot, hot paving stones giving way to the Perfume Maker's Souk,
cajoling two camels and the small-hoofed donkey.
May we improvise mosaics in the maize and indigo plazas,
with our crazy families, over acqueducts made famous by warring
Romans, and through decaying archways,
followed by two camels and one disagreeable donkey.
May we jam in the amphitheater and read aloud our odes to friends
who will love and disappoint and delight us in the melodies of friendship,
remembering to water two camels and one obstinate donkey.
In blowing sand that stings our faces, with recollection of our dead tenderly
wrapped and shaped like pyramids, may we sway
rhythmically on the backs of two camels and one moody donkey.
May we cherish the desert and embrace our memories of the sea,
knowing that one does not cancel out the other
but permits a cobalt-blue feather to grow in the mind.
May we gather in temporary shelters and break bread with others,
never allowing our envy to get out of hand and respecting the laws
of the lands we cross on two camels and one petulant donkey.
Thus, the painter invented this fanciful checkerboard grid,
this landscape of magic squares into which we may walk
with our lives and our deaths, with two camels and one recalcitrant donkey.
From DOMAIN OF PERFECT AFFECTION (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2006)