Norman Dubie

death by compass

We are scrolling between rims of glass,
a cold sweat
on Rimbaud’s radical carafe of tea
made with the skin of yellow African herbs,
gunpowder, and a bright urine
falling from his tall black nurse
through a fine filter of green chemise
while the August sun climbs a banana grove
with its white skirt of pepper trees.
In this long dream of Shoa
the nurse said to his young sister,
in her straw hat
that he was dead
of a blood poisoning to the leg:

a long dream, to be exact
of that very afternoon
when cold black manure was being spread
over most of the open pasturage, in France.