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QU3XO.??J ^ESLIE UlLMAN After a line by Pablo Neruda You were going to ask: and where are the lilacs? but what about the empty water bottles, the sweaty pesos you blindly handed over for the journey and the suitcases left behind on the pier? What about the avocado sprinkled with lime so strong it cures raw fish in minutes, and the grainy local cheese you were offered after the boat was pulled ashore? You lean against a palm that needs 140 inches of rain a year while heavy-billed birds with glints of yellow in their wings shatter the sky, their voices crow-raucous and combative. Bougainvillea cascades from high trees— a come-hither color, a throaty pink that looks injected—and even the rocks sprout leaves on top of moss on top of leaves—what good would lilacs do you here? They remain, like your flashlight and underwear, on the mainland of the past—four decades behind you, to be exact, beside the house where you grew up—do they still scent the Midwestern May nights with a promise of muted light, the almost-silence of chiffon? Once, on a visit, you sought a pale glimpse of purple, the very thought of which provoked an ambush of longing in your throat, but a new house had been built !5 Ecotone: reimagining place where the wild garden used to be— an eight-foot cedar fence imprisoned you for good from anyone, past or present, who might have time to sip iced tea on the back porch, note that fleeting, crushable scent, and think about the future you never imagined as this headlong rush through seasons and time zones, this play of bounty minus most of what you thought was yours to take with you. 16 ...


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