MEETING SOME OF MYSELVES
Originally written by Susan Davenport for a Writer’s Enclave meeting 3/3/03 modified 6- 12/13-2010 by Susan D. McLean
“We meet ourselves time and again in a thousand different guises on the path of life.” - C. G. Jung
Mustachioed garlicky men
Sorrows and humor
Etched deeply in their handsome faces
My grandmothers with their dimming bright eyes
Tambourines rattle and sound
I'm dancing in a swirl of skirts
My gold earrings flash like small lightning bolts
Reflecting the light from the fire.
And always as always and ever before
Before we are rested
We must begin to move again.
Staid farmers and merchants
Rooted to their lands and shops
Give us the evil eye that conveys the threat, the message
Get along with you Gypsies..
Get along before you get any notions
That you are welcome here.
And so, after another night under the endless stars
It's the road and the road and the road
We're back to the endless road together.
The heat of a skull and crossbones battle
Fought boomingly and smokily under a tattered Jolly Roger
The cool relief of my watery grave
Or (another version of the pirate lifetales I know)-
Coughing up bubbles and salt
I crawl nearly spent
From days of improbable floating on jetsam
Before reaching the warm sandy curve of beach
On this uncharted banana bird island paradise.
Soon enough, despite my gratitude for the adequate plentitude of fruits, fish and coconut nectar
It occurs to me that those who might still pray for my return are few and impossibly far away.
I make my way back to the water's edge
And swim as best I can back out into the sea.
MEDIEVAL WALLED TOWN
Prayers and plagues, martyrs and mayhem
And we are all souls bound together
Standing in solitary inward awe, watching
As the Omens and Auguries gather.
For awhile the carts groan by
Loaded with so many of
Ourselves and I know
They will be filled with many more of us tomorrow
And the day after that until perhaps
There is no one left of us to load the carts.
A chanted ding dong theme, a twining wreath of cloistered lives:
Damp grey walls, damp grey habits,
Damp grey bread and thin sour wine.
Monkish studies, crucifyingly closely overseen
By God’s self-annointed Inquisitors and Superiors
Lives lit up yet tightly and (sometimes) chastely girdled
By a rosary bead round and round of days-
Days upon days of fires, pyres, prayers and Hell’s bells, bells, bells.
And yet, too- (too/and/or)
A wild goatherd freedom
A dark mountain of amazement
And a strangely tempered joy.
A BUSY HARBOR
At night sputtering torch lights along the quai
Weave watery floating tapestries of wonder on the briny deeps.
Chilly daylight reveals the narrow dull cobbled streets of town
Edged with crowded mongeries crouching penitent
Under the shadow of a Gothic spire.
Rainy day relics are on display
In the cathedral's crypt
But I don't go to see them anymore.
And have grown tired of prayers.
Instead, I wander far along the strand
Looking out to sea
Wondering dully (as is my worn-down habit)
If ever my pirate rogue
Will return to this harbor and to me?
Nets are spread upon the sand
A little fire is spitting, roasting kelp
The fisherman I have walked by many times before without a nod
Offers me a taste of his salty starfish stew.
This time I pause, look him in the eye and accept it.
MIDNIGHT AT THE OASIS
Outside our fragrantly incensed tent
I can hear dates softly dropping in the dark
A camel sneezes, which makes us laugh a little
My burnoosed love and I recline on silky cushions, rich rugs
He has the scent of spices on his skin to mix with the attars of exotic flowers on mine.
MY BONNET LIES BESIDE ME
Amongst the swaying prairie grasses
I am frightened by the feelings
Stirred in me by the innocent yet knowing breeze
As it lifts a strand of my unbound hair.
THE CAMPFIRE SPUTTERS AND SHOOTS SPARKS TOWARD THE SKY
All the little dogies have got along somehow today.
Coyotes are yipping at the bright dime of a moon, but they're almost too far away to hear.
The last of the coffee is boiling away- someone needs to bring more water.
(Not very) Old Jim pulls out his flask for a swig and deals the cards again.
(Rather younger) Henry thinks he'll win and bets his boots.
But Henry doesn't win.
After a moment of pondering and another swig, Jim says he'll overlook that fact just this once.
He will let Young Henry keep his boots
Providing Henry solemnly swears on a shared swig to keep that little story to himself,
(Lest another greenhorn cowpoke try to take advantage of a too-forgiving nature.)
Sorely needing his boots, Henry swears, coughs on his swig and forever after keeps his word mumly,
But even so- six – nearly- seven decades later,
Overly surrounded too much of the time by some of his offspring and some of theirs and theirs,
Old Henry finds himself lying pleasantly undisturbed for a few minutes on his prairie town deathbed.
Drifting along in half-dreams like a gracefully tumblin’ tumbleweed
Henry chuckles inwardly yet again, remembering the open range-
The shiny moon, the scents and night sounds of tired and dusty dogies, the distant coyote yips
And the startling rasp to his inexperienced throat from the flask swig.but-
Most especially, most clearly. most amusedly
He recalls the feigned menace of Young Jim’s tone
And the glimpse he got under Jim’s hat brim of a flickering firelit grin..
AN ATELIER IN PARIS
The nude reclining on the bed below the skylight
Dozes lightly before arranging herself in the desired pose.
She has a few minutes to half-nap, languid while the artist mixes his paints.
He fixes his next canvas on the waiting easel. turns and gestures 'it's time'...
His model stretches, then composes her form as he directs her...
Fruit flies circle last week’s still life as
The scent notes of paint and linseed and basking nude warmed
By the sunshine streaming down from above
Meet rotting fruit, entwining to produce a haunting perfume.
A whiff of country lavender hung to dry is superfluous, distracting.
The artist feels a little drunk with it all and hums what he remembers
Of the haunting gypsy folk tune he heard out in the street last night.