The Empress Dowager Tz’u-Hsi speaks.
The whole garden
drowses. A stone Buddha
sits in the lotus position, legs crossed,
aspect not quite inscrutable. His lips lift
in a smile of honeyed sweetness.
Now is the hour of languor.
Can time simply stop? Suppose in a photo
a man and a woman seem to be kissing,
lips lifted in honeyed sweetness. Is there
an eternal pause? Time’s metronome
ticks out a tempo. A photo
is only illusion.
Once, in my yard, a sunbird hung
in the air in front of me—sunbird jet bead eyes
level with mine. Blurred wing beats, small body
throbbing. I stopped breathing for all of the long
moments he stayed suspended—
I, who am not a flower.
Bees, in a thin buzz, circle the Buddha.
The sun is casting a broad shadow across the face
of the sundial. Buddha remains unmoved. Folds
of his robe are open down to his navel. One
jacaranda blossom drifts to his upturned palm.
Ask me what makes time stop.
When the throbbing heart, long suspended,
leaps from the throat to a place south
of the navel, where may remain a few
drops of honeyed sweetness,
legs unlotused, time stands still.
I think you too
are an illusion.
Still, I give you my hand.
I give you my throbbing heart.
Marjorie Stamm Rosenfeld is a former Southern Methodist University Press editor, SMU English instructor, and U.S. Navy analyst. Her work has appeared in print in Ekphrasis, Southwest Review, Nimrod, Rosebud, Margie, Anthology of Magazine Verse & Yearbook of American Poetry, Travois: An Anthology of Texas Poetry, and The Listening Eye, and online at Persimmon Tree, qarrtsiluni, Centaur, Cyclamens and Swords, MidEastWeb, and Zwoje, where her poem “Angel” appears in both English and Polish translation. “Angel” is also in the 2nd Edition of The Auschwitz Poems, available from the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. Additionally, a poem of Marjorie’s is in British author Patrick Dempsey’s documentary book Babi Yar. Her chapbook, Fringing the Garments, was published in 2013 by Pecan Grove Press, St. Mary’s University.