American Sonnet for My Past and Future Assassin

Terrance Hayes

When I am close enough, I am reminded
Of the mythic orchid called Lorca’s Breath,
Named by Salvador Dalí a decade after the poet’s
Death. The flower is said to sprout five swollen
Petals the shade of a harvest moon but once or twice
Before it dies. Also lost in the war was the painting
Dalí painted of Lorca’s writing hand, a long
Almost animal shadow crawling over land shaped
Like a man with the body of a woman. A cuff
Of celestial texture. A button of ruby. The orchid’s
Mouth is the shade of pussy, its leaves hang
As if listening to a lover whisper with her back
To you. Rumor that this flower first appeared
Near wherever Lorca is buried, I know to be untrue.

Terrance Hayes is the author of Lighthead, Wind in a Box, Hip Logic, and Muscular Music. How to Be Drawn is his most recent collection of poems.