Jungle Balcony
Ricardo Pau-Llosa

Jungle Balcony

condos, Altamira, Caracas

It must have started with a begonia
in a painted clay vase and moved
steadily up to potted fern, oleander, and fichus,
then to vine swayed in its plastic world
before brushing against the wall it would possess.
A green curtain can shut out the human witness
on a rusty railing, perched on rickety elbows,
and crate the view out as tightly as the view in.
It can do this, and every house plant is impelled
to do this, slowly, in the decorous
slides by which a world becomes.

Contrast this with the sudden mad flutter
of haunted emptiness which hangs laundry
from window frames and gratings. The linen foliage
clipped to nylon branch and root exhibits
the worn obscured personal. The line proclaims
the author’s inability to rhyme sock and underwear.

The rags are pulled in before night
and dew and the promised rain
of radios and calendars descends.
Alone now, the balcony announces
discretion and dark sleep
behind a philodendron grin.

Ricardo Pau-Llosa

is the author of seven books of poetry; the latest, Man, published in 2014 by Carnegie Mellon U. Press, is his fifth title with the Press. He has new and forthcoming appearances in Hudson Review, december, American Poetry Review, Stand, Plume, and other literary magazines. He is also an art critic and curator.