[from Linda Lee Harper's Small Waves,Finishing Line Press, 2009]
has company on the Amazon river, panhandles
among visitors slumming the rain forest
where she fled after the family scandals.
She'd take in more money if at the request
of the turistas she'd tell her tale,
but like the xenopus, queer creatures
that also lack tongues, morphemes, wails,
her celebrity remains her lucrative feature.
Sometimes you can catch her in a camp
store bar or down river in huts
natives build like movie sets, fires damp
where smoke, white as split Brazil nuts,
intoxicates the sky with hallucinogenic
vapors she imbibes, repudiates speech,
its loss, the silence, the impolitic lunatic
who hacked song and language beyond reach,
her compensation a spirit with wings,
an afterlife where even her river, sings.