Oblivion Fruit
by Malinda Markham

Here they say that animals forget their homes if not called
Three times before dawn.
I believe because speech comforts better than this wizening marsh,

Because answers spring from the mouth
Like strange orange flowers
In glass. In a field behind the gate, grass grows waist-high,

All dead, stalks with a dark umber spread,
Wide as both of my hands.
Even the weeds indraw their color, anticipate cold. And if people

Are not called before daylight, what then? We chronicle
The dimming as if stories, too,
Were not loss arrayed in colors to charm us. Eat of this fruit:

You will not remember the arms of a love.
You will not remember
The face.
Nothing changes: The pain is just another green

That fades according to season. Across the river, two women
Fight in silence over ginkgo nuts.
They touch the single tree between them, invoking

Whatever governs the fruit: Fall quickly, fall quietly, in a place
Each can easily find. In this motion,
All is complete. There is no answer apart from belief.

Malinda Markham has received an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Iowa and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Denver. Her first book manuscript, Ninety-five Nights of Listening, won a 2001 Bakeless Award and will be published by Houghton Mifflin in June 2002. Work has appeared in Conjunctions, Paris Review, American Letters & Commentary, Denver Quarterly, Ohio Review, and many others. She lives in Tokyo and
is especially interested in contemporary poetry by Japanese women.