Alberta, 1983

she is still young enough

to remember the bougainvillea

on the eaves      old men

shuffling in the breezeway

   how paan dyes the teeth

   red &     black

   those rictus grins


at three      my scope

a different sort of internal


this prairie

leaves her hollow    her hands

riffling the spice cupboard

for turmeric      cardamom

& the sari silks

preserved like butterflies


how a cedar trunk can be

big enough to hold a world

   Dar-Es-Salaam    its blossoms

   & fragrance


& that a seven-month cold spell

limns the bones


what she taught us:

sparrow’s endurance in ice-blind trees

bone rattle of memory & winter