It must have been her accent
that seduced and baffled my ears.
The Egyptian woman, still lost
in the desert air of Cairo,
read her poems filled with water
from the Nile and blue heaven,
blue heaven, blue heaven flying
over the lotus flowers. I heard
“heaven” but later discovered
she said “heron.” A distant cousin
to the sacred ibis, herons (even blue ones)
are commonplace–are everywhere–even
in the non-exotic marshes of northern Ohio
where another blue creation–my mother–
landed. Blue Helen, blue Helen, blue Helen.
The kids in Cleveland would tease her.
Her blue eyes swimming in the immigrant’s
version of hide and seek, lost and found,
a lexicon of strange words that trip her tongue:
A paradise where she flies, dusts clouds,
and polishes haloes. Washing the blue
of heaven until it shines like a word
that has yet to be invented.
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