2. Water - Out Of The False Queen’s Reach
wet dark tangle of trees dripping
moss and vines. stagnant water.
mired and sinking in mud
this swamp does not want me
to move forward, I relieve these supple
boots of my feet. mourning the charade
of a second skin, my feet swell.
this place is the devil. tracking
hoofprints in the mud. I can see
nothing more sinister than a grazing
goat, mud slumbering sow, piglets yanking
swollen teats, lowing calf begging milk
to fill the spaces between rib
bones, dirt scratching chickens, swinging
dead gator. ignore me. from a barren tree’s water
twisted limbs, there is no wind forcing
colored glass incantations. bind me. chant,
there is no just passing through
here. in the splintered doorway
of a worn clapboard house with its matching
toothless old woman. black beaded eyes on my bare
feet, matted hair, torn refinement taking
inventory. detached and calculated as my mother
always did. my skin twitches like an army of ants
has invaded. and retreats as her sturdy clawed
hand like a broom pushing me towards
the steps. her skin a myrrh scented map
marked by each surveilled odyssey. lines
end in cicatrix or interrupted by freckle
or mole. she knows the hunt. the vessel failing,
falling or filled like those pious bottles remember
pouring out huzzah! content now to plink
their prayers. she kisses
both cheeks. gently lifts my eyelids
whispers at the iris. blows the whites
ignores the pupil. presses my chin down to examine
my tongue, she clucks disapprovingly.
holds my sword hand open,
yellow nail traces the palm.
her voice scratches my ear drums,
bones have no flesh
cards are just
paper flapping. lips
or inter spirit.
flesh is free.
turn back. I
move backwards. swift
as a water moccasin, she slides in front of me.
pinches dirt into parchment, squeezes out one tear,
spits, sprinkles bitter herbs, then folds, turns it
each time the crease facing her.
packet to pocket. remember
anyone can rip the soul out
of a body. few can return it.
and then I am running and tripping
over Mangrove roots. a jabiru startles
screeching to the sky. what that
old woman said, what that old woman
is what that old woman said.