17 Jasmine

by Neeli Cherkovski 

in the hills
which are prelude
to disaster

famine, monsoon central
planning, but I plant jasmine
on your shoulder, and tend
fields of organic tomatoes, and build

hot houses . . . save us love, I glow, your smile
alone
over there in Da Lat, for the law of wood and jade

the lines are drawn, you look so much
like you were by the mountain pool, cold

army of mist, gray soldiers aiming
at the necks
of anonymous Montagnards, you know

cool jasmine grows not only here, but

over there
the heat
and hear bees, jewels of the Mandarin, a lamp
in an ancient hall . . .

one mile further over

against all music, a cloud fortress moving,
anger

cruel, lovely, amusing

knowing
how to wait calmly
before jasmine
17 plants ago
or so
I know when to believe