It covers everything, fine powder,the earth’s gold breath falling softlyon the dark wood dresser, blue ceramic bowls,picture frames on the wall. It wafts upfrom canyons, carried on the wind,on the wings of birds, in the rough fur of animalsas they rise from the ground. Sometimes it’s copper,sometimes dark as ink. In great storms,it even crosses the sea. Once,when my grandmother was a girl,a strong gale lifted red dust from Africaand took it thousands of miles awayto the Caribbean where people swept itfrom their doorsteps, kept it in small jars,reminder of that other home.Gandhi said, “The seeker after truthshould be humbler than the dust.”Wherever we go, it follows.I take a damp cloth, swipe the windowsills,the lamp’s taut shade, run a fingerover the dining room table.And still, it returns, settling in the gapsbetween floorboards, gilding the edgesof unread books. What could be more loyal,more lonely, and unsung?
“Dust” from Bonfire Opera by Danusha Laméris, © 2020.
All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15260.
Used by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.
Danusha Laméris is the author of The Moons of August (Autumn House, 2014), and Bonfire Opera, (University of Pittsburgh Press, Pitt Poetry Series, 2020). Some of her poems have been published in The Best American Poetry, The New York Times, The American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, and Prairie Schooner. The recipient of the 2020 Lucille Clifton Legacy Award, she teaches poetry independently, and was the 2018-2020 Poet Laureate of Santa Cruz County, California.
“Bonfire Opera, Danusha Lameris’ ravishing second collection of poems, lives up to its title and then some. In melodic and sumptuous lines, she considers desire, sorrow, beauty and death. This is a collection you will want to keep close, ‘a reminder to begin, again, by listening carefully with the body’s rapt attention.’”
“No experience is more fulfilling than reading the work of a writer who is a master of her craft—of feeling like the book you are immersed in is an entire world. This is what it is like reading Danusha Laméris’ Bonfire Opera. Everything is alive in these poems, even loss. Even death. In these finely crafted lyrics, worms, berries, skin, hawks, dirt and desire exist and even thrive in a symbiotic relationship that is a model for a new way of thinking. If a book can be smart and funny and dark and wise and vulnerable and beautiful all at the same time, this one is. In one of her best poems, Laméris writes, ‘This is what I’ve made here, a garden, a feast.’ That’s for sure. Bonfire Opera is a feast you’ll want to devour and a garden that will never stop yielding.”
—Dean Rader, University of San Francisco