To see it this way, my myth professor loved to say, a man
From the South rumored to extort the bodies of college girls
Into higher grades. My girlfriend of the time told me so —
Got an A in the class and liked his joke about religion
As self-mutilation, it was Ramadan then and, O Helen,
I was fasting. I lie awake in a desert night east
Of sand on hot zinc roof, the rustle of leaves, the flap
Of peeling bark on trees whose names I do not know, and where
Would I find a botany guide here. Water flowed
There were elephant pools, alligator
Streams, and a pond for the devil to speak in human tongues.
All desiccant names now after an earthquake
I’m assured, since nothing has stopped
The birds from migration. All the look-alikes
Are already here: the stork, the heron.
That aesthetizes you more.