At the Window – A Poem

At the Window

Sunlight, yellow and stale, spills in through
the window where you rest
your forehead.
Your fluttering eyelashes stilled
as you scrutinize the piano teacher who lives across
the street (I think her name is Doris),
her crooked way of walking while
shuffling her children into a van; two boys
who are wearing robot masks and carrying sleds.

I tried to remember the conversation we had.
What you told me on the riverbank under the bridge.
But the ghouls who keep us company removed it
from my memory,
picking my brain with the finest cutlery,
the sharpest scalpels, and the most expensive
imported chop sticks.
They served it as a light snack to accompany their Chai Tea.

Now, only the vaguest of images of us
by the lumbering river remain. The sock
and a soda can entangled in the weeds,
the raw steel of the bridge
rusting to the sound of dragonflies, the curling white
foam that circled about the rocks. I remember your hair,
fresh with the smell of the fennel we
passed through on the ridge, crashing
over my face. Tresses shifting and
filtering the light
highlighting your smile.

You did not ask me your name,
and I did not ask you mine.

I want to feel your breath on the soles of my feet.
Reach out, run my hand along the curve of your hips
and tell you how the other day I saw
a cardinal dazzlingly red in white snowy branches,
green pines jealously peeking through.

I wonder if he knew how awfully cliché he was.

You are a halo of gold in the dying
embers of the retreating sun, a silhouette
of disgraced hope
seated at the windowsill in blue jeans and a white
t-shirt, arms wrapped tightly around your knees. I long
to examine the small of your back, lightly
kiss you behind your ear, and
whisper to you a tragic tale I told the children
before bed.

It was about a samurai who enlisted the aid
of an eagle named Tormai in a quest
to steal a flower from the gardens of the sun.
The Rain Witch gave him the key.

Victorious, he returned home only
to find the Sun King in vengeful fury
sent his armies to lay waste to the samurai’s country,
setting his town
ablaze, the castle collapsing under seize.

At his house where his
beloved was to be preparing turnip fish
stew, he discovered her gone, the place
empty but for the wind laughing through the corridors
and a tiny emerald from the ring she wore
discarded on the floor.

Distraught he abandoned his land and lord,
flying high above
the dark ocean waters where a fierce wind suddenly
blew, causing him to
drop the flower and the emerald
into the crashing waves.

From the emerald an island grew, with children playing
under the tropical trees and along
the beaches. In the shadow
of a golden temple a priest would ring a noiseless
bell every hour.

The flower transformed into a Intuni,
The Great Whale,
her body covered with sparkling jewels and diamonds,
and the moon held in her silver crown.

Intuni devoured the samurai, and he tumbled in her mouth,
dissolving into a pollen. She blew him out across
the island, and bright golden flowers sprung
forth, safe from the greedy Sun King who
feared the whale.

The kids faced me with inquisitive eyes
silently asking why
I would tell the story of a samurai
without a single sword fight.

The glass near your nose is fogged a bit, your warmth
challenging the cold bearing down on
the world outside. I dream of your lips
smiling again, to hear the
sweet lullaby flavor of your laughter.

I hide these desires, though,
these thoughts and feelings,
burying them in the firmament of my subconscious.
Eventually, the ghouls with their sharp claws
and penetrating eyes
will find them, purple tongues lapping up
their scent as the monsters gently
pick and dissect
them from my brain to sell on grocery store shelves, or
in coffee shops alongside
oh so moist muffins
and oversized chocolate chip cookies.


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