Thursday, May 17, 2007

A Certain Look

“Unless you look for me,” she said,
“You will not find me.” A book dropped off the shelf
And on the open page
The first line read, “wait until the child’s eyes
Abandon the blue.”

I left her to rock in her chair
And, thinking I’d read it, took the book
To my room.

Upon reaching the hallway
I noticed a dentist’s chair that had been left there
By a well-wishing cousin or neighbor.

There was no choice but to sit in the chair,
abandoning the book to the corner

Presently, someone came and took my
temperature. I failed to raise it
enough to please them.
I was told to make as little sound
As possible.

Presently, she appeared.
It had been months and some of her
teeth had fallen out.

She told me she had left them under her pillow
and it was then I understood
that she was a child.

“Come home,” she said, and not meanly.

“I’ll golf,” I said. “I’ll collect Hungarian rocks.”
“It won’t matter what you do,” she said, “if you don’t come home.”

But I stayed in the chair. Visitors came;
gave me brightly colored stockings;
kindly entertained me with curious and
unusual stories.

One, a fisherman, told me of a
blue crab he once found in his net.
Though he had never in his forty years
Of fishing seen the like, he chose to treat it
as any other crab,
killed it, cracked open the sky blue
shell. And as he cleaned it, he found in its
meat a metal strip inscribed with
a single word.
The miniature writing was read with a microscope.
In capital letters was inscribed on the metal the word
And the fisherman, telling me this, cried.
He held these words close and I bent forward to listen, “Killing is an act of ignorance. Dying is an act of ignorance.”

The sea of voices, vast and open-mouthed,
repeated, “I did not know.”
These things that we do not know
will eat us.
The whole of us.

THERE is the beyond that controls us.
THERE is not this chair where I sit, yet today.

The child will return eventually. I am periodically
fed, bathed, my temperature is taken. I receive visitors.
I am entertained.
As I wait I listen to the stories told by pilots, doctors, mothers, sons, patricians, imaginary beings, train car operators, clock repairmen, shoemakers, abductees,
fathers, electricians, haunting spirits,
and fishermen.

Until I sit alone in the twilight,
half-remembering a wandering gypsy,
a mountainside at midday.

I could become lost,
I could forfeit.
I am not a seeker at heart.
I will always look for the slipper
rather than the pen; the milk
and not the port.

She is sailing, sailing away.
She smiles, standing at the bow,
Smiles grandly, with a wanderer’s bliss.
And in the wind, a thin reed of a voice is singing,
“Come join my little band,
come dance with us
on a long summer’s day as we search the
meadow for golden things,
lost there by knights and soldiers
on their way to a long-forgotten war.”

She is sailing, sailing away.
She smiles, she stands at the bow.

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