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Telephoning In Mexican Sunlight

 Talking with my beloved in New York
I stood at the outdoor public telephone
in Mexican sunlight, in my purple shirt.
Someone had called it a man/woman shirt.
The phrase irked me.
But then I remembered that Rainer Maria Rilke, who until he was seven wore dresses and had long yellow hair, wrote that the girl he almost was "made her bed in his ear" and "slept him the world.
" I thought, OK this shirt will clothe the other in me.
As we fell into long-distance love talk a squeaky chittering started up all around, and every few seconds came a sudden loud buzzing.
I half expected to find the insulation on the telephone line laid open under the pressure of our talk leaking low-frequency noises.
But a few yards away a dozen hummingbirds, gorgets going drab or blazing according as the sun struck them, stood on their tail rudders in a circle around my head, transfixed by the flower-likeness of the shirt.
And perhaps also by a flush rising into my face, for a word -- one with a thick sound, as if a porous vowel had sat soaking up saliva while waiting to get spoken, possibly the name of some flower that hummingbirds love, perhaps "honeysuckle" or "hollyhock" or "phlox" -- just then shocked me with its suddenness, and this time apparently did burst the insulation, letting the word sound in the open where all could hear, for these tiny, irascible, nectar-addicted puritans jumped back all at once, as if the air gasped.

Poem by Galway Kinnell
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