Dear disappeared town, the flowers
at my window remind someone of you. Say
“petunias.” Hear Betunia–––town of his father’s birth.
Mornings, he leaps from my bed to brew mint-
cardamom tea. Hear sea. Dear B, his father’s
found a way to grow fig-trees in Newark, NJ.
In winter, you are safe, burlap-cocooned,
a smuggled-secret in his garage.
No hungry warblers. No sudden frosts.
Nor the Atlantic weight that can slow.
Nor the Atlantic weight that slows
an eighty-year old Arab man walking
through Manhattan in search of olive oil.
He scours bright shelves of the city. Home
is a map salvaged purely from memory
and the beveled light in his hands.
Olive oil as smoke. Olive oil as wine.
Olive oil as desert mosque. Which orchard.
Which school. Which mother. Which son.
Dear son, come summer, he will lift.
Dear sun, come summer, he will lift
the trees and place them under your ardor,
darning that lost farm with this cramped
garden. There’s only the one celestial arbor
we all live under. He will become master-
seamstress, desert bee, oh, pollinating one.
For here lays his secret to the ripening of figs
in Newark, NJ: Prick each fig, every one,
with a needle, dipped in olive-oil.
A man crows, brings me tea and smoke.
My man crows, brings me tea and smoke-
purple fruit from the chain-link garden.
I graze each coppery plum. Say “home.”
Hear Chile, Brazil, Iceland and Jordan.
Seek the invisible navel. The mouth
is a bulldozer? No, our smoke-velvet lips
warble “witness,” join in the map-maker’s prayer:
This orchard. This school. This mother. This son.
This fig. This room. No one can say gone is gone.
Not the disappeared town, not the flowers.