Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Seeking Peace In the High Desert


The wolf hounds are barking next door.
Nothing in sight
but a half moon and Joshua trees
silhouetted against the sky.

Their voices blend, Cerberus
evokes the night flower's breath
of despair. Temperatures are cold;
the owners have locked the door.

I want to shake its brass handle
and cry, let them in, let me sleep;
but I turn toward the window.

The shade hangs
with Venetian slats strung together,
lines on tomorrow's pad
waiting for my pen
to draft a complaint.

Soon, the barking stops.
Silence grips the dark air
for several moments -- until
I hear a woman calling,
come here, come here.


Early morning, and the moon
has moved down, a gauze bag
steeping in the corner's blue darkness
while I stand drinking tea.

As the sky lightens,
a stranger appears dragging
her satchel across the field.

Head shawl and layered skirts
define a shamanic woman
who has drifted in with the smell
of wood smoke

I guess she is either mortal
or myth, a Si'oua
who has come with her bag of charms
to appease a hostile spirit.

Somehow, I know she is this
and her bundle of goods
a burlap sack of bones -- canine
hip, leg, rib and skull
whose teeth she might use
to card wool . My hands shiver.

I drink more Earl Grey
and wonder --
what was the time of death.

Terms --
Si'oua is a woman shaman in certain Indian cultures known to communicate with the dead, tame or appease hostile spirits and .aid women in child birth with medicinal charms.

Cerberus - is a large, three-headed dog from ancient mythology who guarded the gates of hell. From his saliva, a poisonous herb sprung up called "wolf bane."

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