a white tea harvested only during the full moon.
Something about a metaphor that makes the heart
burn, as it burns—not a cliché but the breath
of a body cremated on the banks of the Ganges, sorrowful
as its final twist out of flesh merges with smoke.
Something about Shakespeare and synesthesia.
Baudelaire. Rimbaud. Circuits of the nervous system
crossed at birth. How our hearing could possibly
see. How touch could taste. How taste, even,
could be a trek through the belly-bloated moon
of the Himalayas. Something about this tea,
Himalayan Dream, as if it’s drinking me. Cables
of scar-light reaching all the way into the throat-chords
of what and how and why we might. Say things
are right this time. Say you wear a shirt inside
out. It’s the summer solstice. The sun reverses
what’s wrong. You finally have a hound dog
without coursing a coon through the swampy
dark. The inside-in of a night of serious drinking
of white tea. René Daumal wrote something similar,
though he meant booze. Though he should have stayed
in India with the peacock sewn slantwise
into his chest and not returned
to tuberculosis and that smelly cot
in Paris. The death-bed photo with the beard gets me
each morning to shave. The few snout hairs of my beagle-hound
resemble a Gauguin mustache. Moonlight there, too,
in Tahiti that the palm fronds bow before and drink. Everything
seems to be drinking what it should not. You. Me. Daumal.
The confusion, sometimes, where I am you, and the wind
is the sea coughing up upon the shoreline sores.
Seems a long way from the Himalayas,
though it’s the same exact moon, there, fastening
the snow as the moon, here, qualifying
my sleep. Not a cliché if—with synesthesia—we drink
the same bright spot from a tornado-dark sky. Healing light
spins, can double for salve even as it doubles
the intensity of white tea. Rare. Picked only
when the moon’s complete. Unique
as the life of each hound dog I’ve ever loved.
Unique as a drop of smoke marrying the river
rain as it leaves the body, disguised as death. As death’s sleep.
Unique as hearing through the tea we taste. The tea we see.
George Kalamaras, former Poet Laureate of Indiana (2014-2016), is the author of fifteen books of poetry, eight of which are full-length, including Kingdom of Throat-Stuck Luck, winner of the Elixir Press Poetry Prize (2011), and The Theory and Function of Mangoes, winner of the Four Way Books Intro Series (2000). He is Professor of English at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, where he has taught since 1990. http://www.