My mother is teaching thirteen-year-olds

printmaking. The cross-curricular lesson:

to write a haiku of a scene in nature 

and carve its relief.  


A boy asks for my help, and 

I chastise “beautiful,” the waste

of three syllables, and ask the boy

what a beautiful girl looks like. 

He admits that he doesn’t know. 


Hibiscus. In three syllables, 

I am kissing a former lover’s tattoo

on her warm back and thinking of my mother, 

who told me I could love anyone I wanted, 

even if they were purple or polka-dotted. 


I sit with the boy, and we write down 

all the three syllables that come to mind:

bumblebee, whitetail deer,

crab apple, newborn calf.