The Whale

Frankie has bad dreams
of dark things that have no edges
like blackened shower nozzles
of mold and mildew;
a closet in an empty house
where someone sways;
tall windows with peeling paint
the color of old teeth,
chewing on memories
of a fury sunrise.

She wonders why
these things haunt her,
as she trembles in the
rings of my eyes.
Maybe she’s a
dreamcatcher
for nightmares,
the kind that lurk behind
closed doors in rooms
made by men in a hurry.

Perhaps Frankie sees mine,
and takes them away.
Beneath the ocean
she becomes a whale,
and carries my nightmares
to waters at the edge
of the Earth,
where no boats are allowed,
and whales rarely swim.

Maybe that is why
she wakes up crying.

When I Lived in the Desert

Once in a previous life,
I saw muslin drapes
billowing in a room
with white-washed walls
and wooden furniture
where a pitcher of water
sat on a stand
near the door.

There in that room
I lay dying
on a bed of
rough-hewn pillows
and thin sheets
that gathered at my ankles.

The curtains caught in the
the breeze and billowed
to and fro,
so that I could see the
cobalt sky and gray clouds
lined with golden sunlight
which spoke to me.

The clouds were sad
to hear of my
imminent departure,
and wished me well
in my next chapter,
for they had been
watching and guiding me
for many years.

This was quite unlike
the greedy stares
of my brothers who
surrounded my bedside,
staring down at me,
hands inside their robes,
hoods lowered,
words hushed,
faces featureless in my
fevered mind.

Traitors, all of them.

They did not carry
the Book
under the bleating sun
through the desert
in leather sandals
so worn that were it
not undignified
to have no shoes,
I would have left
them there in the
sea of sand.

My brothers did not
burn and peel,
nor feel
their tongue swell,
their mouth turn to plaster,
watch their ribs grow
in gnawing hunger,
only to stumble into
the Sacred City some
weeks later,
a worn rag of flesh.

They did not make
this Sacrifice.

Now, when I think of
the Book,
I see my hands turning its
thick pages that crack
with dryness under the sun.

The text is in a language
I do not understand,
but I know it speaks
the Truth,
which is Holy,
and a rarity
in any day.

My brothers,
these men who look
down at me dying,
like famished dogs
fighting over a carcass,
they only want my
place at the Temple
when I am gone.

And my heart
is blackened.

Dandelions

Bury me with her
When the wind blows again
Like it did back then.
Summer on the plains
Tall grass at my knees
Dandelions soft and gray,
Taking flight into the breeze
That tangles my hair.

My feet are silent,
Wrapped in skin
As the sound of a steam engine
Chugging on a rusty track
Rattles my ears.
Sky is still, blue, warm.
Clouds like kites
Wisps of white, spun sugar
Brushing my fingertips.

She lies near here,
By the three tall timbers
That were once a barn.
When the day is like my dreams,
And the land has ripened,
After I am old.
Bury me with her,
I will never leave again.