by Eric Paul Shaffer

From where I sit, the papaya reveals a green ruff
of fruit swelling beneath a loose canopy of green
hands catching morning light.

The neighbor’s new
roof gleams like a penny in light that might silver
if there were more, but the clouds return the rays
to the sky,

bouncing them back into the universe
after an eight-minute flit from star to blue planet
and now, for eternity,

a long, lightless rush through
space between stars that stars cannot illuminate.
Light seeks sand, sea, and mountains, to reflect on
some work of substance,

to wring color from beams
full of rainbows and release one, an announcement
that of all of the colors the sun contains, this blue,
this red, this yellow,

this green the eye entertains
is truly the only color this sky, this mango, these
bananas, and the ripening papaya

do not accept.
And so, as this speck of earth arcs among the stars
around the prodigal sovereign of the sun,

we are
known by what we are not. Shadows cast black
contours where light falls, but leaves and legs
pass along gravel and grass

as we do when the time
comes to rise and go, but the sun feeds the green
above and below the crown and heel,

and the stars
light our way, and after we pass, the fruit golds
and falls, and only the sun burns for the earth.


Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 15, Issue 3.

Eric Paul Shaffer is the author of five books of poetry, including Lahaina Noon (2005), Living at the Monastery, Working in the Kitchen (2001), and Portable Planet (2000). He received the 2002 Elliot Cades Award for Literature, a 2006 Ka Palapala Po’okela Book Award for the book Lahaina Noon, and the 2009 James M. Vaughan Award for Poetry.

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