A Complete Stranger
Alone in Rome in a downpour,
I walked miles amid the terrible thunder,
shafts of lightning hunting my blood.
Crossed roads turned to rivers,
despair now firmly wrapped around my bones.
I drank in the fierce rain, shedding
my fears and when I finally returned
to the small, cold room, I let the sodden clothes
fall and puddle on the cracked linoleum
and crawled into bed, pulling
the thin blanket round and round
as if I could finally
disappear, while the boastful storm
continued to slam at my window and desire
fluttered in the shadowed corner.
I was winter bound, if only
in thought, shallow breathing
and wed to sleep. All gray
swimming in my dreams, in the early
hours, detached, without
the edges of comparison or ruse.
The gambler is faceless, but fluent
in several languages. I'm no student
of chance, no juggler of numbers.
I'll take the tea leaves settling in the cup
or the old rosary on the bedpost.
The bowl of stones has stories enough.
Imagine time or count it, lose the middle,
frame the edges, there is no foothold,
no guarantee. My hand on the cold window
mapping the territory. Detail of river
and high plain, of changing light
as the mad black crow breaks the silence.