Nic Sebastian


Ruud Van Empel

polemic for spring

and there you are among
the lemon groves
of Srimongol, trailing through
the jackfruit trees

your hands cut
and bleeding from jagged
pineapple leaves
you don’t know how to handle

sit with me in the dawn, watch me
peel the pineapple, flavor it
with lemon and papaya, brew for you
a delicate tea

its scented steam will rise
before your face
calm like the Arakan hills
drowsing blue beyond the river

and together in sleep we will float
on a bamboo raft
over a green pool ringed
with betel palms and warbler song

listen well now
the children are laughing
in the lemon grove

they met among the junipers

where the hot earth was red
the juniper berries thick
in angled blue

she said they should go higher
to the white aspens their shimmered
leaf spells but he said
wait

they became thirsty but
wait  he said

she broke forth in a hot night
mad with thirst for hill
height and leaner air

a new gape carved the air
at his back and he dreamt

thickly among the junipers
of the green rustle the liquid tremor
of the aspens

cocktail reception

the room bustles it throngs
with sharp heliconia in curved
orange chic with canna all
ostrich-feather pink and
fuchsia in somewhat

in between but what is the order
is there one in this humming
multitude what is this
hovering needled flitter

of metal green and crimson
that flashes here and suddenly
not there oh wait this is a dance a careful
cotillion

the birds glitter they probe
dartingly the flowers deliver
themselves like the nightingale
all soft breast against
heedless thorn

the birds drink
fleetingly but deep
hardly arrived
they are already gone

and the drained flowers
close on themselves drag slowly
home cradling a slight

new spark using
careful inside breath
to blow on it

of thirst and decay

Leviticus 25:35

a stranger you are
from fire-raped country

my gaze alone is tearless
before the twist
of your scorched skin

you say I am your sister but no brother
ever clenched a sister in such arms
from such dry hot sleep

you rear awake in thirst from thick linens
turn on the wellsprings of my body and suck
as to end all moisture

we are well my brother
for the heat of your grasp
speaks the blistered name
of my thirst

the wanderers’ blessing

(The Albanian nun Teresa received Indian citizenship on 14 December, 1951. The official order granting citizenship stipulated simply that her name be removed from India’s List of Foreigners.)

the wanderer learns quickly
that in all places there are no lists

of those who belong, only lists
of those who don’t

members of the order
of strangers

and interlopers do not speak
when they pass each other in dim

mountain passes, on rope bridges swaying high
above the abyss

they bless each other silently
through bitter winds:

may your name be removed
from the list of foreigners

Nic Sebastian hails from Arlington, Virginia and travels widely. She has two sons who travel with her as they can. Her work has appeared in Valparaiso Poetry Review, Lily, Autumn Sky Poetry, Mannequin Envy, Avatar Review, Anti- and elsewhere. Nic blogs at Very Like A Whale. She is building an audio anthology of her readings of contemporary poetry at Whale Sound and manages Voice Alpha, a community blog about reading poetry aloud to an audience.

Nic Sebastian’s audio chapbook, baobab girl