Rimbaud at Marseilles

His infant lust after language:
asylums filling with voices
of the profound: they lay on rolled
sails, inventing new flowers to name.

In small rooms fires erupt
from tea-cups, poppy seed and one-
legged visions pull his body back
intact to Somali shores, caravans.

He would clutch for hands, searching
for scars and panic he recalled placing
with a knife kept sharp for intimates;
staring into cut eyes of strangers.

Some wounded, some mended, his limping
love chasing down absinthe drunks
or child-like savages; Harar
or Paris, or the hospital
of the Immaculate Conception.


[Published in The Fiddlehead No. 187, Spring 1996]

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