Lilith in a Garden in San Antonio, Texas, or, The Name Game

with apologies to John Hollander

Enid Dame (1943-2003)

Okay, birds
I think I'll call you greenlusters
all that hard sheen on your feathers
you fantail draggers
high-steppers bead-eye appraisers
arrogant as teen princes
stalking the bricks as if
you made this garden or owned it,
your shiny new car.

You, I'll call you white-edged show-offs
leaping through branches like stuntmen
chittering whistlers:
chirp like a chink of clean tin
tick like a drugstore alarm.

You must be hornet birds
or darting eggbeaters teasers
sucking up to those tongue
flowers all waving and red
working quicker than lovers.

Here is a prickleplant patch--
you look like pads
dropped off a Stegosaurus.
(Who needs protection here?)

Tree like a tall young schoolgirl
raincoat leaves stubby white finger flowers
offering half-unwrapped fruit,
I'll call you Virgin Promise.

You must be whipped-cream cone trees.
You, green hair-knot nest fruits
(profligate crones
with all your bags open).
And you, naked flying crane,
that superfluous comb on your head,
I'll call you King Gooseflesh.

No wonder Adam liked doing this!
Naming's a game addictive
like footprinting clean slabs of beach.
animals use their scents.
People have words.
The world, after all,
was created from pieces of alphabet.
If God can be a great poet,
you can be Dr. Suess.

Yes, I was having fun
in my new scrap of earth,
making up names for everything,

until the man stood there solemn
a stag in a neat polo shirt,
wielding a clipboard.
"Lady, how can I help you?
Lady, you must be lost."

Poem: © Copyright 2005 by the Literary Estate of Enid Dame. All rights reserved.

A lengthy encyclopedia article on her

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