Renée with Fan

After a painting by Barbara Rogers

I stand in the jungle,
dressed in white,
my turban tied.

I’ve been here for years
in my jewels,
wearing the same
red smile,

always ready
for something rare,
bringing a crystal bell

or stained-glass ladder
through ferns
and rubber trees,
the rush of breathing.

A flamingo lifts
its wings
but does not fly;
leaves turn silver.

brings dreams
shifting like sand,
the moon’s whisper.

Somewhere near
there is always the toll
of the sea,

there is always the
taste of ash on my lips,
the wait.

— Lucille Lang Day

From Fire in the Garden,
first published in Transfer