Ruth Fainlight

There’s a place on the road
coming down from the hills where rows
of oyster frames unfurl
on an indigo sea
like a pattern of bamboo fans
or blocks of pale embroidery
on a geisha’s kimono,
whose knees and shoulders
press against the border
of the wood engraving
tight as Alice’s
when she started growing.

The high-piled mass
of the dead volcano cone
is her oiled and twisted hair
fighting free from its combs
to tangle in the shell-
encrusted poles. Her eyes
look crazed. A small tooth shows
between pursed lips, and one breast’s
tip in the oyster scent
of watered silk’s
loosened folds. Her mood is
storm clouds over the lagoon.