Saturday, April 14, 2012

Ephebe's Quest #2

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

insist, return.

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.

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