I Sated the Void

It sacked my interior castle.
Wail and howls –

loss, as usual, and a nameless urgency.

It did not ask me but stole stole stole,
unanswerable as an owl
caught out by the sun.

***

I entered my sleeping self
and found I wasn’t there.
No name, no memory, in an incognito room
heavy with foreign shapes.
I said to myself,
whoever I might be,
There must be something I can know.
Inchoate agitation replied:
not words, but velveteen cecropia wings fluttering.
See! moonlight coalesces in a gauze curtain.
I don’t know that window
or understand the sounds of an iron lung.
A hotel, I think.
This backache is mine.
But who is that,

breathing?

***

Outside this alienation,

coyotes trill Persephone songs.

***

Aril is the word
I learned in Saint Augustine,
that and coquina.
One is edible and known
to women who traffic with the underworld –
the other, an amalgam
of dead things telling partial stories.
On our first day there, I hurt my back.
Maybe that’s why Tam and I skipped
our cemetery visit.
Gravestones, coquina, fossils (even a diary):
only markers for what can be neither
fully grasped or told:

Identity is memory that has an audience.

The pomegranate arils were sweet
defense against the eventual Lethe.
Another thing we neglected:
a visit to The Fountain of Youth.
Mr. Leon, Mr. Leon,

how’d that work out for you?

***

The immeasurable gap between
“being and nothingness”
is a chasm we have no choice but to cross.

***

“Je suis perdu, je suis perdu,” she repeated,
thinking it meant “I’m sorry”
and not “I’m lost.”
The Belgian landlord’s daughter led
her home –
Who will lead me home?
This room is not a hotel.
That’s an intuition, and sturdier than the
fact of the moonlit window –

not a window, but a door.

I’m home, but not here.
The big cecropia beats her wings.
Coyotes and owls give voice to wild chant.
Almost a year ago, Tam and I
saw an owl in daylight,
lodged in a palm frond like a feathery kitten.
It was a message of loss misinterpreted.
Within the week, Tam’s mother had no voice to say, “Je suis perdu.”

I was no landlord’s daughter.

***

Not knowledge but instinct
brought me back to my sleeping self.
Is this how Alzheimer’s feels?
Is this my feathered-kitten, moth-winged invoice
for the toll we all pay,
and some of us pay before death?
Breathing, breath in the dark;
a hand I reach to hold.
In the morning Tam says,

“It was a dream.”

Coyotes, hold your tongues!

January, 2016

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