716 Herbaceous plants.

As the Earth rotates on itself, so the axial tilt draws and sucks at the sun, so the atmosphere expands and retracts, and so change, change they do, the colors of this boy’s hair.

This boy and his seasonal hair, chartreuse green to maize yellow to vermilion, sprouting bundles of freesias. This boy is the descendant of Phineas Gage on one side and Mendel on the other, this clean boy strokes a proverbial beard from which vanilla orchids burst forth.

This boy, who subsists by the good graces of Japanese agricultural subsidies, spends sixteen hours a day rice farming. His brothers tie back his hair with twine and stuff it underneath a burlap sombrero, but still the bees and the butterflies, they come. His mother, bald now from a combination of anemia and a variety of fungal infections, wishes he could invoke workers instead of insects, or at least a pretty wife. This boy has black eyes hidden by hair hidden by fat caterpillars and bright spring strands, the wife, she never does come.

When this boy attends school in the summer, he is a running whip of orange hair against a rippling mountain, followed by a torrent of birds. He sits next to the girl from the Yamaguchi Prefecture, this deaf girl with fins branching from her head. This girl slices the shiniest of her scales to give to him, and in return, this boy builds towering flower arrangements on his scalp. They admire each other from simultaneous and symmetrical peaks, bicycling in the dark with a sea of fireflies in the boy’s hair. Blown glass fish and ikebana until the day this girl grows gills and is thrown unceremoniously back into the ocean.

This boy’s hair falls out in taupe gray armfuls as the squalls approach and the ships leave, hair left on snow beds, left on paddy fields. Migrating animals grab his shirt collar, a souvenir, ripping away blossoms and fibers, carrying their feel and shape to nests, to dump in caves where hibernating bears lay. What good is it to be left without the pleasure of a trace, a salt path, a carcass, a folded-up lightening bug, a dried fin? As if not having a past tense, as if not coughing back bones up, as if not reacting in pain, as if not screaming in love. This boy searches for samurai swords in rocks and maps fault lines, but neither he nor the Philippine Sea Plate choose to subduct, sinking is not the option they seek.

Telephones poles and paved roads, they come up, even to the hills where these flower boys live. This boy babies a rice bag underneath both arms, taking the slow scenic path, waiting for the train track lights to switch. Locomotion starts and stops for him, the conductor staring as this boy smiles, wind nabbing his sombrero, a wave of sparrows and wasps, light striking the surface and hair striking back, this soft green fuzz underneath.


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