Being nearly heart-shaped made me seem a ham
   On early spice trade navigators’ charts
   Tinctured with cinnamon, peppered with forts,
To be eaten up under a strong brand name
Like Taprobane, Serendib, Tenarisim—
   Copper-palmed lotus island slave resorts—
   And I succumbed to lordly polished arts
That cut me down to seem a white king’s gem,
A star sapphire tear-drop India shed
   On old school maps, a lighthouse of retorts
Flashing from head to head. My leonine blood
Throbbed wildly when resplendent freedom came
   Mouthing pearl tropes with Pali counterparts,
Exalted, flawed; and made me seem as I am.

This Issue

May 8, 1986