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The Humming Lady

The humming lady arrives

in a smiling orange smock

and orders from the waiter

a plate of overripe oranges,

peeling off the snowwebs

into a red-blanketed napkin.

She hums a centuries-old

Romany tune, which I half-

recognise as the fugue to

my own death (and so it

must be her own death).

Through orange mist and

beneath a brown-greying

fringe, she appears to half-

recognise both of our lives

and turns (out of politeness?)

towards an invisible volta.

Clear pearl of eye where

I thank smilingly, pleased

at the new tempo, its cheer

turbinal about the room,

unsealed maternally from

the willow of her throat.  


ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR

James Byrne’s most recent collection, Blood/Sugar was published by Arc in 2009. Bones Will Crow: 15 Contemporary Burmese Poets (June 2012), is co-edited with ko ko thett and is the first anthology of Burmese poetry to be published in the West. Byrne is editor of The Wolf and co-editor of Voice Recognition: 21 Poets for the 21st Century (Bloodaxe, 2009). His poems have been translated into languages including Arabic and Burmese.  

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