In her own words...

"Landscape with Postmark"


On that plain of sand and wind in March.
                                                  Or no — it's an illusion.
                                                  Try names:
Blad al Hamra, Amazigh, El Mo'izz. No use.

Here is a nowhere, a waste, a thrust-up slab of stone,
          a speck in vastness,
          in eternal wind,
          in a sickening solitude
                                                  of African blaze

until the sweet mirage, billowing black
           and real in the shimmer:
                                                  "Je peux vous aider?"

Her Berber face as slow, as graven
           as Araby itself,
           factual as the brow tattoo,
           the thirsty eyes that drained mine
           or would have drained them
                                                  of their blurred falter.

Two women scarved in ambiguity of wind,
           we share the slab,
           our words blown like sand from mouth to ear
           and back to mouth in a tongue neither
           hers nor mine, waiting
           not for my tarrying friends,
                                                  but for
           that could never happen, there
                                                  or anywhere in this world.

Her letters: drowning messages in bottles
           of desert-stricken glass (we all know
           it turns to amethyst).

What can I do? Kabira!
           Did you get the shortwave radio?
                                                  Do you still live
           at Derb Amzmiz,
           Kasbah, Marrakech?


About this work

“Landscape with Postmark” was first published in The Gettysburg Review, Vol. 13, no. 2 (Summer 2000), pp. 288-289.  It was included in American Poet: The Journal of the Academy of American Poets, Spring 2003, p. 23,  in conjunction with "Still Time: A Note on Dorothea Tanning's Poems" by Richard Howard, pp. 20-21.

“Landscape with Postmark” is also included in Dorothea Tanning's book, A Table of Content: Poems, New York: Graywolf Press, 2004, p. 30, and may not be reprinted without the publisher's permission.