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Telephoning In Mexican Sunlight Analysis

Author: Poetry of Galway Kinnell Type: Poetry Views: 78

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Imperfect Thirst1994Talking with my beloved in New York

I stood at the outdoor public telephone

in Mexican sunlight, in my purple shirt.

Someone had called it a man/woman

shirt. The phrase irked me. But then

I remembered that Rainer Maria

Rilke, who until he was seven wore

dresses and had long yellow hair,

wrote that the girl he almost was

"made her bed in his ear" and "slept him the world."

I thought, OK this shirt will clothe the other in me.

As we fell into long-distance love talk

a squeaky chittering started up all around,

and every few seconds came a sudden loudbuzzing. I half expected to find

the insulation on the telephone line

laid open under the pressure of our talk

leaking low-frequency noises.

But a few yards away a dozen hummingbirds,

gorgets going drab or blazing

according as the sun struck them,

stood on their tail rudders in a circlearound my head, transfixed

by the flower-likeness of the shirt.

And perhaps also by a flush rising into my face,

for a word -- one with a thick sound,

as if a porous vowel had sat soaking up

saliva while waiting to get spoken,

possibly the name of some flower

that hummingbirds love, perhaps

"honeysuckle" or "hollyhock"

or "phlox" -- just then shocked me

with its suddenness, and this time

apparently did burst the insulation,

letting the word sound in the open

where all could hear, for these tiny, irascible,

nectar-addicted puritans jumped back

all at once, as if the air gasped.


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