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Blue kashmir, '74.

L.A. spring, our boulevard of flowering jaca- randa. Twelve trees: Ophelia's delirium. The color the clapper makes inside the bell, the bell's explosion twelve times into addled violet. I see

the equal signs, but no two things on this earth are the same. The symbol of wings that follows me is the real maker of equations: blue rain and my dogs panting beside me.

See. That's my dark Expressionist painting the first extraneous cross: dying Christ as just an element of landscape, like blue: the hare's throat, the contusion of clouds, backlit, and the varying mountain sky. Count

the intrusion of a dog's bark. Trout-fishing in Kashmir, I followed my guide faithfully, a child into white water. He pointed deep, deeper into the Himalayas. There was China. Dressed as a boy, I didn't know how to paint

my own naivete: everything in my gaze faithful, true as a dog's. August 15th. Lower Wangat. Below us the Jhelum was flooding into Srinigar. Consequences, dark as blood mixed with cerulean, the color in the skull as the head dips underwater. The beggar's

"long gone" cry like the floating arias of the peddlers, little boat- sleighs criss-crossing Dal Lake, loaded with gold and bones stolen from Tibetan temples. The hotel-houseboats capsized, but not every one. Woe is the woman who walks in blue, it's her ecstasy,

she cannot see it. At the Oberoi, the Hindu Female Doctor I'd placed in the book of strong women pulled me aside, veiled, hissing. They will kill me. I stepped into the whitewater. The dogs look back at me, race the wave-colored hill She un-

dressed the Moslem women, which was forbidden. Eyes turned sideways above the veil, then a downward glance. She saw that they required the cautery blade, biopsy. He pointed out a trout. Dun-flash. She had to find the soft places where the tumors hid,

behind breastbone or ovary. On the wall, sunlight: her bone chart, twenty blue vials of penicillin. She was the first unsteady step into the secular, into expression. An element in the landscape: rain

pencilling itself on the glass as they stepped free of their veils, naked: breasts, buttocks. The neigh- bor's bucket seats overflow with blue wings, trees' sex. The women stood, ecstatic, keeping their arms

straight, perpendicular to the floor. Equal sign, I don't know how anyone could change sex so ex- peditiously. I wore jeans, my hair under a cap. He must have opted to look the other way, away

from the waves. The men accosted her in the street, shouted how she'd defiled their wives. Help me. Her eyes. He taught me how to thread on the fly, cast. The tree holds out its arms: falling blossoms.

I begged off. Eyes, eyes, the color of the dogs', crosses.
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Author:Muske, Carol
Publication:The American Poetry Review
Date:Nov 1, 1997
Words:463
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