R. Nemo Hill

Being Youthful and Lacking Tact


Being youthful and lacking tact
I was interested in fruit trees and songbirds,
how the earth ripens, how it moves,
how it all comes together. So once, in Burma
I sat with a fruitarian monk in ox-blood robes
cross-legged on a tatami mat and asked about
reincarnation, the secrets of life, and all that,
while he inspected one of the 17 pieces of fruit
he would ingest during our brief time together.
Crunching the core of an apple between his teeth
with relish, like the bones of a fledgling sparrow,
he burped and passed one hand lovingly over his protruding belly.
The afternoon breeze blew in and out of the tea room,
lifting the tattered white curtain like a veil
for just a moment, while I waited for an answer
and the bamboo grove just outside the window clacked together
like bones crashing in the bare, unfurnished quarters
of the servants, just beyond the stairs.


previously published in nibble