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Sabrina Orah Mark reads Oni Buchanan's poem, "The Guinea Pig and the Green Balloon".

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My name is Sabrina Orah Mark and I will be reading Oni Buchanan's "The Guinea Pig and the Green Balloon", which is one of my favorite poems on Earth and maybe one of the saddest poems I have ever read.

The Guinea Pig and the Green Balloon

I approached the luminous stranger who came to me
from darkness in a gown of lettuce leaves, in a velvet

cloak of green that appeared at first another piece of dark,
but pulled apart into the glow-sphere that danced 

in swaying steps, the lucent majesty that slipped toward me
from the reigning silence black above my cage.

Oh extravagant--and were my teeth too sharp to greet
or sharp enough?  I do not understand now what was meant

to happen and what was a mistake--but know the bursting,
the sickening snap of ecstasy wrenched back to the body

and the green gown flung in crippled circles traced
like diagrams of wasting moons above my head--or portals

to another world, I thought, but as I thought, the shriek
dissolved, the body crumpled from the air and landed

on its side beneath the salt lick.  All night I tended
the wasted skin and careful, brought it water,

alfalfa, made a bed of cedar chips and tried to gather
molecules of breath that floated from the plant shelf.

When I remembered morning, I began to cry, began to pray
for night to stay until the green took shape again

and if that shape were gone, I prayed for night
to stay, to be held in the same forever-dark

in which I first looked up and saw the gentle body,
and saw the graceful swaying of the stranger coming

as if for me--now I do not know--but then,
as if for me, and all my loneliness gone.