Poems by Leslie McGrath

At Sea

When at last we reached the wrought iron gate
and the taxi driver strained to find the button
that would give us entry, I read !Peligro!
beneath the sign’s skull and crossbones
Poisonous snakes will make a meal of you!

Cicadas buzzed their dark electric
as I lay on the bed still dressed in traveling clothes.
Winds rifled up the mountain,
rending leaves, wrenching fruit from trees,
but it was the bamboo’s thrash and creak
that made me dream the sea.

I was lashed to a raft in a storm,
green heat and black-lacquered sky.
The sea took me up, the sea threw me down--
sea of jungle, nightmare sea. 
In a place where one is a stranger,
it’s not the setting that unsettles sleep
but the cargo heaped on our backs,
visible to others but unseen to us,
that comes unlatched.

snake farm


Photos by Callie Hirsch

La Abeja Irisada

At the mango’s sinewy root
             an iridescent bee

perfect; perfectly still.

I crouch
waiting for the bronze wings
              to lift her

a jewel in flight….

She does not budge.

A twitch of her mandible
       is all.

Her eyes geodesic

I lean in, willing her
to perform
          one of the acts
we expect of beauty.

I must have terrified

in the way
terror follows beauty


and beauty follows terror




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