INSIDE THIS ISSUE:
WHATEVER I'VE TOLD YOU BEFORE
MAY NO LONGER BE TRUE
Clouds shift, the sky tears,
Orion slips a disc,
new constellations burn
paths through old maps.
That trail between hills
is a freeway now, or
the ramp to a swamp
convolute as a brain.
We too change, grow fat,
forgetful or wise,
trip over curbs
into the muck,
may or may not
climb out of rivers
forever in flux,
glassy or turbulent surface
masking the crocodile.
Am I too involved with dead
great aunts, alert in their nineties,
grandfathers, father, uncles,
my untimely mother,
who all died too soon.
Not morbid preoccupation.
I was too busy before to hear out
their tales of Tannenberg, Kharkov,
Sebastopol, Leningrad, Anzio,
Monte Cassino, how they survived
uneasy peace in between.
Now I recycle into my stories
what I remember of theirs.
As for their ellipses - one does not
tell children the horrors--
I research, re-invent,
apologize to them.
"Alligators there," the desk lady warns.
So I head for the stretch of ragged green
punctuated by palms edging the bay
between the Siesta Motel and Taco Bell
stuck on Highway 1.
An octet of pelicans dives with one crash
into water splattered with dawn,
a sedate regatta of coots glides by,
one cormorant vanishes, reappears
by the pier. A few herring gulls.
Beneath the bank, a navy-gray heron
jabs his reflection off the gray beach
one meter wide and pierced with pipes,
paving blocks, driftwood, one sandal
unthonged, tatters of plastic, crushed cups.
More trash above on the shaggy grass
where oversized white morning glories entwine
palmettos, tiny wild roses, bushes with flame
berries and orange flowers promising poison.
I settle with breakfast buns, await alligators.
Elisavietta Ritchie, Washington, D.C.
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