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Issue 18

Poetry » Jane Blue »

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The Orient Express

A wall of windows, a door of shadows
all around me where I slept as a child.

Does time fly, or does it
circle the earth like a train? Like
the Orient Express boring down into Russia.

Embrace this moment. Look around.
Feel the cool morning air.

My mother rode that train once
blithely smuggling in rubles.

Does time fly in a straight line? Not even
the birds, except perhaps occasionally a crow.
Not even a plane.

There is a turbulence in the layers of air.
Watch a bird or a butterfly use it.

Justin next door is drumming again, a dog
sings. When the time comes, Justin,
drum me out, drum me home.

The Language of Walking

She walks straight and tall, chest
thrust out, back slightly tilted.

She would bend over backwards for you.

A woman can easily balance the moon on her head.

Roofers are walking on a sloped roof,
jumping from peak to peak, their day-glo
vests and hard hats going with them,
appearing and disappearing
as though they are swinging from trees.

On this day which is not yet Walpurgisnacht,
is not yet Beltane.

Everyone, I think, is scarred.

Hummingbird

A tiny hummingbird flies into the hibiscus flowers
of the Rose of Sharon, into the darting bees.

I can’t see her drink, she is so quick, her
trajectory so wild, slave to the air’s movement

invisible to my eye, my heavy, land-tethered
form. A gulp must be less than a drop

but for her it’s a whole meal. Her fast-beating heart
is the size of a fingernail’s crescent moon.

Her energy the energy of God; she’s always busy
in her heaven. Hers seems a hectic life to me.

It is simply life. A flash of color draws her,
a bit of sweetness. And then she must be off!

***

Oh the world is strange and varied.
Who you think you are, and who you think

your parents are, who you think your sisters
and brothers, who you think

the hummingbird is and what she knows–
that is always fiction.

Warrior Woman

A little Chinese girl sits up on the divider
between tables at McDonald’s, like a statue
of a warrior woman. She is wearing a short
pink-patterned dress and blue tights, staring
out the window. Her father, in the booth below,
ignores her as if she isn’t even there. Glittery
pink ballet flats graze the benches on either
side of her as her father talk-talks to his friend
across the table, the paper cups of coffee
growing cold. I will call her Susie. Susie
lies back and slips and slides across
McDonald’s fake wood slat, unthinkingly.
You know what she is doing even though she
doesn’t, exactly. Oh!

Leave this beautiful bored child comforting
herself. This poem, now, is not about her,
she is not Susie, you don’t know her at all.
This poem is about you, the deep
embedded loneliness that’s always been there
and is now backing out like a fat tick
from your soft flesh, a match lit to it by the doctor.

And the doctor, surprisingly, is you.