Nyla Matuk. Sumptuary Laws. Montréal, Québec: Vehicule Press, 2012.
1The walking stick insect was a late childhood horror,
2ugly as an umbrella’s disrobing.
3Moths, with brown wings the prize of
4Asian fan-makers, pestered it like paparazzi.
5That Peruvian variety, a race almost entirely female,
6would come down from the Morello cherry long after sunset;
7after the plums turned the humid blue they want to be,
8after trees sighed and inhaled the nearby jasmine, blooming
9them nightly to dream-lives as smooth-complected date palms
10for some caliph’s odalisque
11or the low-stress Oregonian monkey puzzles,
12a species whose softly-prickled, rounded shoehorn limbs
13propose new kinds of orgasm.
14Walking stick insects
15were squibs from the natural world,
16little stand-up comics
17fashioned after mutineered twigs. Given half a chance,
18the poseurs would neither walk, nor meander,
19perambulate, or otherwise imitate
20Wordsworth or Nietzsche. Like the wives of 17th century
21men of garden science, they loitered and lolled
22between vivarium and cabinet of curiosity,
23dividing their time between joy and sloth.
RPO poem Editors
Poem used with permission of the author.