By Denise Low
The French word means "against-
the-sun," against tropical heat
and against misty rain.
I know the word, and the Victorian
umbrella, but here it distorts, like potted
hibiscus plants grown gargantuan
in a world without frost
and mountains without exposed rock.
Everything shifts from the known axis.
On temple grounds they tower,
no longer hand-held, not taut nylon,
familiar red or black bubbles,
but flaring cobra crowns,
symbol of royal office, and Buddha's
transcendence. At Southep temple
one rises twenty feet, ornate,
the fringe like gold-thread lace,
an enormous doily, a shelter,
a portable ceiling, or holy canopy,
a perfect halo, a shining house,
a shield set upright against demons.