|Jan/Feb 2013 Poetry Special Feature|
Blizzard of oak leaves across play-
ground. My dog sniffs
the cuff of a pink jacket flung over chain-
link fence. So many cast-off
sweaters, single gloves
school-kids hung without their mothers'
consent. So few come back
home. A child never believes what might
happen. Scents imbued in a cuff's
knit. It's the neighbors' girl,
Amy, we're following, my dog and I—
as we navigate from swing-
sets to jungle-gym, down the yellow
spiral tunnel-slide; out the back
gate into woods—that mineral smell
of rock opening itself to fall. Vegetal decay
along the short-cut trail. And here
behind a tree, tittering, is Amy.
Not lost. Not disappeared—
like the girl they found last week,
stocking knotted at her throat, clumps
of earth scuffed over, leaf-
fall in her carefully teased tresses.
You've left behind the lush 9-to-5
of Monaco hotels,
to sail the inland ocean.
You told your boss you needed a change.
Sea-salt, your mineral-cure of choice.
Your family thinks you're sick in the head,
sailing off in dead winter.
No blizzards on the water, but the sea-
god speaks in gales. This evening
you're navigating between
islands in a storm,
doubting the charts you were given;
sailing on faith and instinct;
not asking Poseidon's blessings or even
his consent. You just left
a dock where yachts were smashing
against each other, wild horses
held by tether. You'll
take your chances on open water.
At last, by starlight you reach
safe harbor. Deserted,
an island left blank on your charts.
This night—so far
from city lights, under stars named
for ancient gods and heroes—
is cure for anything
that might have ailed you.