• Susanna Lang

What We Call It

Updated: Jul 24, 2019


Where the road crosses Peavine Creek, a different vine

wreathes the railing with small white flowers,


Confederate jasmine—not jasmine at all

though the flowers smell sweet and soapy,


and Confederate only in its aversion to cold. 

I stop on the bridge to bury my face in its blossoms. 


They have other names we could use, since this one 

conjures so much suffering: Chinese ivy, angelwing, 


windmill, pinwheel, shining jasmine. In Uzbekistan, 

the name is trader’s compass: they say the flowers 

will point a trader toward the road he needs, but only

if he is of good character. That might be the name 


to choose, reminder that those who break the ancient laws 

of hospitality, and those who cast insults like stones, 


will be lost. Here there are clearly marked roads to follow 

with small white flowers blooming along the way, 


leading us forward with their fragrance on cloudy nights 

when the stars below do not reflect the stars above.



As published in Gyroscope Review - Audible link.


next poem >