The Sensation of Bamboo

by William Doreski

The sensation of bamboo lingers.
Years ago in a river delta
huge bamboos lofted overhead,
supporting a sky so infested

with helicopters no one looked up,
no one understood the clatter
except as a cruel alternative
to speech. The bamboo felt cold,

defying the tropical heat
to reconstruct its identity
in the privacy of its roots.
It abandoned its crown to the roar

of machinery, cries of women
burning in their tracks. It severed
at the finger-joints, rheumatoid,
and dropped huge logs across my path

to remind me whoever I was.
Now in frozen New Hampshire
the angles at which roofs meet
snow-light exclude a tropical

point of view but enable
the interior cold of bamboo
to emerge in the palms of my hands.
Not that I want to remember

the feel of bamboo, the screams
of dismembered children, the grunt
of bullet in flesh; but bamboo
insists on remembering me.

The snow-light’s tough enough
to exclude black helicopters
and jet fighters quarreling faster
than sound. I feel almost safe

except for the bamboo flowing
through my fists, and the sensation
that my roots are growing deeper
than absolute chill should allow.

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