They are your neighbors, living across the street,
in a rambling house, at the edge of the forest,
an extended Chinese family
with strange customs and odd behaviors.
You see them now and then, coming and going,
overhear a mixture of English and Chinese,
and, occasionally catching a phrase, you ponder:
what was that about?
Getting curious, you initiate contact
and soon you share the bounty of each other's gardens,
they teach you the rules of Feng Shui and Chinese astrology
while you google for them the exact date of the next eclipse.
They offer you strange remedies of your bruises,
delight in your poems, (but did they understand them?)
only to frown on you the next time for--you know not what--infraction,
then seem unresponsive when you try to make amends.
And yet, they water your garden and feed your cat while you are on vacation,
bring their generator when the power goes out,
warn you about cougars or ghosts prowling at dusk,
which makes your hair stand up, though you can't see either.
The image came first:
an opened fan, emerging from a black dot,
origin as well as lynch pin to a triangle of frayed strips,
their originally joyous yellow, flaming red
dulled to a rusty orange by a warp of pewter threads,
tying them to the left, to a stiff flame of blue light
whose tip is straining away from both, the rust and the lead,
so preoccupied with its own urge towards liberation,
it hasn't yet sensed an enclosing circle
of interlacing pad locks.
Then the commentary:
Leaving an icy road, I followed a young man
of unclear affiliations with the green party
into a humongous bus, traveling the autobahn.
Only 11 km, he proclaimed, to Copenhagen,
that sane and civil place in the North--
with one of the highest suicide rates.
I followed the tenuous thread of this slight discomfort
which I didn't dare to voice--
wasn't I being helped?
Didn't I love there once, extravagantly?
And yet, my body knew, it didn't need more cool.
Though the other travelers, contently, face forward,
I need to get off the autobahn, leave my green knight,
so sure in his youthful chivalry,
listen instead to a tall, thin crone,
who, wearing her kayak, circumnavigated Lake Superior,
her solitary effort supported by a community of friends.
In her presence, I found--at last--
my own white charger,
inside my personal pouch,
that innocent energizer of my Nexus,
my still silent, black tablet, now able to connect
to a library of books, two already downloaded,
Mogli side by side with the family Robinson,
telling stories of the wildly blooming South.
The Phantom in My Opera
I have glimpsed him, now and then.
His sable cape can't hide
red gargoyle eyes burning
over a black-blue beard.
His silent glare insists that I follow
the old pattern, offer myself
like a delectable gingerbread house
to the ravenous tearing of every needy child.
He is the one who stirs
a host of bats into a frenzy,
whenever I dare to be
different from what's expected.
He still can tighten a chain
around my throat,
thus keeping me
from dwelling in my own body.
But I have drawn his picture.
Though badly distorted,
the enfolding circle holds.
The hunted has become the hunter.
Brigitte Goetze spins her yarns in Western Oregon. An apprentice of Rumpelstiltskin, she is learning to transform the prickly straw of experience into the shining gold of awareness. She has been published by Calyx, Women Artists Datebook 2011, Oregon Humanities, Four and Twenty, Outwardlink, New Verse News, Mused, Oudrant Journal and others.
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