Short-Lived Hospitality; Anaho; Night Fauna; Nights of Raivavae; November, Four PM

Short-Lived Hospitality

The well-appointed crypt spared no room
for spirit to roam, 
so the buried could play
their elegant back and forth
of residence and absence.

Perfume vials, Mugwort and Rosemary unguents,
trinkets, familiars sticky with emotional residues,
are still much enjoyed
in the long shadow of centuries.

A pious gush of maggots
erased their struggles and regrets,
and all their praying through life’s ferocities.

A carved arch reverently frames an opening
as if the one supine there needed air,
showering sequins on her
from the wide desert sky.

Millenniums have reordered her space.
A different comfort neatly folds silence
like organdy in silk paper,
diffuses light with crystal bombast.

For just a while the tomb
carries the visitor
over a stream of skulls,  
the callow rift of time

until a ceiling fresco  
gives a taste of paradise.
Envious of the dead, unneeded, 
he is forced to depart.

Forever will it be mid-morning in Anaho Bay.
No moonlight, storm or sunset will inflict 
their vengeful melancholy on us.

Mid-morning displays a surveyor’s accurate arc 
and a sequence of turquoise, gold and green,
row by row as in a rainbow.

Vast and uniform father, 
the sky plays only a distant role.

Anaho, whiz illustrator to all south sea tales,
obliterates the torrid bug-bitten brush
I came through.

A thousand emblems diffuse their variations on love.
I must remain still, like a pontiff deep in prayer
or I’ll shatter in as many shards.

Silence plays the music of palpitation, undulation.

Shallow sea trespasses on the sand 
with an amphibian’s hunch for another way of life. 
Casuarina and palm lean toward water with castaway thirst.

A man washes his horse in the bay, 
showing muscle, though he never self-reflects 
as I do. I will not call out, he will not wave,

the horse will stand beside him, 
the breeze always mollifying,
the sea hardly rippling.

The three of us repeat ourselves,
eternalize the instant,
keep each other from interruption.

Only the fringing reef battles its way
towards the indigo opening
of the enfolding bay.
Night Fauna

In my sleep of jungle, steppe and sea
comes a favorite bestiary.
Darkness draws a leopard flung across a branch,
sleek with the slumber of ages,
pinning his markings on the sky.
I lay under the tent of his pelt
hearing his echoed raucous rumbles.

Eyes half closed  in the rhythmic
clench and stretch of the tiger’s paws,
snow mittens, petals of fire,
fragrant with creamy marrow.
None can fight 
this limpid splendor
so I nestle close
to his weapons.

Otter rockets through 
streams of acumen,
absorbs lightening in
the hair of her wired coat.
Nimble otter, 
how far shall we drift?

Horse drums a canter,
exalting speed,
infinite dactylography. 
Impetuously writes out 
the algorithm of his odyssey.

At last, a great god confides in me.
Nights of Raivavae

They chant nights 
into perpetuity
war-like or tender orchestrations 
funneled into a capella

Odysseys and improvising skies
taught them to sing so
in absolutes 
to foil the lacerating departures  
and for alakazams of return

Bequeathed open sea
they surf like-minded 
along the fretwork of bastion waves
on star-woven winds

The reef fires
pelagic cylinders 
sparks yards of pyretic hair
in the night’s amnion 

Flames chip at monolithic features

Outsider appended to the rituals 
by childish infatuation
Siblings strap to my neck
to the pontoon of my legs

Smell of whelps on my skin 
from a spell of possession
I sift tales from coral sand
brother sister spiraling into shells

How we succumb to each other
the euphonious islanders and I
in a contract unsigned

They situate me in intervals 
between peak and cloud
cultivate me to favor 
their broad-leaf crops
Pride churns between us
invents new tribalisms
Nothing beats the moon’s
sweeping through the trees
and the bacterial lucency 
in the lagoon’s sapphire eye

The heart of Raivavae night
defeats all calamity
November, Four PM

Autumn tattoos a duck’s eye.
The forest floor chisels out a jewel.
Yellow ore runs underfoot.
Memory and foresight are shuffled.

Madness makes overtures to the brain.
Thrown by a nuclear deity, a gold disk
shines across evening’s first yawn.
A falling leaf mummifies in mid-air,
crackles before sleep,
bottled in acrid coma.
Instantly rebirth writes out
its green label.

In my head throbs bark’s pulse.
High and low,  the spokes of cycle spin 
towards remedy. And though
the essence of all this still 
eludes the prowling senses,
though lucidness fails to understand,
and the reader of this will not cry out:
” That’s it!”,
four pm’s perfusion of gold 
vamps up my blood and softens the riddle.


Photography Credit: Jason Rice

Stephanie V Sears is a French and American ethnologist (Doctorate EHESS, Paris 1993), free-lance journalist, essayist and poet whose poetry recently appeared in The Deronda Review, The Comstock Review, The Mystic Blue Review, The Big Windows Review, Indefinite Space, The Plum Tree Tavern, Literary Yard, Clementine Unbound, Anti Heroine Chic, DASH, The Dawn Treader, Dodging the Rain, Amethyst Review, The Non-Conformist Magazine, SORTES, Short-listed in 2009 for a Pushcart Prize. Her first book of poetry: ‘The Strange Travels of Svinhilde Wilson’ was published by Adelaide Book in 2020.