Margin: Exploring Modern Magical Realism


If you give him a dollar
he’ll climb a palm tree,
whack a frond to the ground
& meet you back on the
sidewalk where he’ll begin
his folding

The fronds are actually
cricket skin – I never knew
until that trip to Puerto Rico
that all skin must grow
on trees like any other fruit
& that there are people
who know how to fold it

He sang as he wove the body,
organic green fronds twisting,
ducking, weaving, giving
up the deliciousness of sun
for the night songs that would
become their lullaby

He left one leg long, attached
still to the frond it was birthed of
lest it should hop away
before I paid my dollar

In the town square I freed it,
snipped the ungainly appendage
like an umbilicus
that connected it still to the plant
kingdom it was plucked from
& watched as it practiced
being free

j a l i n a   m y h a n a
n o r t h e r n   j a p a n / g e r m a n y

Jalina Mhyana's poem was inspired by a street artist she befriended while staying in Puerto Rico, a man who folded insects from palm fronds on the sidewalk for a dollar a specimen. This poem was also borne of those palm fronds, of his hands, of Puerto Rico.

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