“Like a Sauna Choked with Incense” poem by Christopher Evans

Like a Sauna Choked with Incense

poem by Christopher Evans

after Michael Ondaatje’s “Sweet Like a Crow”

Your hair is like molasses spilled down the front of a new white stove,
like the synchronized thrum of forty-two wren’s wings, like
a sepia photograph of turtlenecked children

Like a drink thrown in serious weather,
a mahogany frieze, a smotherer’s cloth,
a forgotten recipe for cinnamon bread, an invitation,
like the Khmer alphabet, agrarian
mathematics, a road map from 1976, a pasha’s
fevered remembrance of the fire at the spice bazaar

Like warm bitumen, a LaBrea tarpit of
hidden mammoth tusks and saberteeth,
a pensive cellist, a sandalwood
haze over Lisbon, a woodworker’s cuff, the
crash of a coach drawn by seahorses, a swallow’s dusky
flight to San Juan Capistrano, like hot chocolate
spiked with rum sipped from a dented thermos in a birch bark canoe

Like summer’s push, like autumn’s pull
a briar concealing a quartet of sly ermines, a comfortable
like cloudbusting or train travel,
an inverted staircase, an adverse reaction to a dream of falling

Like the new moon’s harvest
splayed across my pillow.