Selections from Barrow Street

"White Egrets," by Pascal Petit

The way a silk cotton tree
seems ablaze
with white blossoms,


the huge flowers
lifting their wings
to fly off


as snowy egrets –
that’s how I see
my mother now.


All it takes is a trick
of moonlight, a voyage
on the great river.


Who knows when she’ll appear
in her nightdress
waving from the bank


or as that butterfly
drinking the tears
from a caiman’s eye.


I like to believe
she rose from the flower
of her body and flew


to the River of Milk
and found peace there,
that the plume hunters


didn’t cut off her wings
and throw her back in
to swim with only her legs.