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Gaps

There is a little separation in her back joints where Africa and Europe

used to be connected but now

they are less than friends let alone intimates.

More like distant cousins…and that is painful

so she tries to relieve it with knees

to chest, rolling to one side then the other.

Same kind of little rolls and stretches she did as a baby.

They still work after fifty years,

lots of things still work after all that time

like laughing and roughing up the dog with little made up

words like “Atta girl, yeah!! Ah go… ah go!

That brand of fun and love hasn’t disappeared for all these years,

just changed dogs since

they don’t live as long as we do.

A poor planning idea on the part of God, she thinks.

Same as teeth—why

don’t they last as long as people do?


Remembering those beautiful small and strong

brown people of India that rush over to carry

her whale-sized bags at the train station. Do they

wonder why a relatively large

white woman with thunder thighs can’t carry her own bags?

They don’t seem to,

grabbing even the small rolling one,

and boosting each one up onto their heads

where they’ve made a flat little pie of the dirty turban that was previously wound around oily crow-black hair.

All this to stabilize the weighty pyramid

that is topped with the small rolling one (they don’t get the idea

of wheeled suitcases—everything goes on the head)

One man’s head tilts from side to side

in the enigmatic Indian style—a cross between “yes” and “no”

and as a gringo you are not sure what it means,

and smiling, he says “No ma’am, I take. No problem.” It was during the smiling that she saw

the teeth that didn’t match with the sinewy,

compact body. They

were broken and gapped—no dental coverage afforded

to these men and women who feel lucky if they make two dollars in a day.

Well, she thought, I’ve got a broken part too,

and it keeps me from even thinking about carrying my duffles, so

she says “thank you very much” and smiles

with her straight lines of white teeth and gives him half

his day’s wages in rupees, and his smile

is wider now and innocent of the gaps in his mouth.

In that moment she sees in his mouth a string

of islands—maybe the Virgin Islands, she thinks--

surrounded by saliva-moistened pink

and darkened depth of glistening ocean.

the beauty of which is beyond logic.


2003


Qi Gong especially for the energy of this poem:








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