Cheryl Latif

prayer beads

quiet as the dawning sky, i sit
anticipating birdsong, unsure about the sun.

this stillness, my pilgrimage.

at memory’s pool
i kneel, drink in your visage
mindful not to disturb the surface,
alter the spell with even a ripple of need.

you leave gifts at my door —
bits of song, 
slightly faded photographs,
pages torn from an unfinished manuscript,
untitled maps.
i cannot decipher them without you. 

i have caught you like rain on my tongue
released you in beads of sweat
returned to the quiet again and again
to light candles, burn sandalwood
remember what i know.

in pools of light i hold your words, a rosary,
feel your desire in the smooth roundness
of each bead, cast prayers of strength,
wait for a sign.


star lilies

soil still between your fingers, you lead me through the garden. it is early morning. crisp air and the fragrance of your favorite blooms stir my senses. we speak in metaphor, seduced by words left to interpretation. you cut me star lilies and freesia. you want your magic to linger. 

i invite you in. find vases. watch the sun play on your hands, now clean, as you lovingly arrange garden gifts. a bud opens as if delighted to be in this small upstairs apartment.

you know the face of my passion, trace the fine lines of my longing with fingers experienced in coaxing flowers to bloom.

content to linger in transitory moments, we play under the arc of laden boughs, pretend there is permanence in the mere curve of letters, cut flowers, a kiss.

beyond the well-tended beds of your garden, winding paths lead to the question you turn from. we lose our way. i return home knowing you will not follow.

upstairs, the star lilies. their fragrant flesh becoming translucent. soon petals will fall, one by one.