No Direction Home
after Suzanne Frischkorn
She doesn’t know how she got lost, it’s hard to navigate
by the stars in the rain and she really doesn’t remember
if it was the current that swept her away or the distraction
of the waves. She doesn’t always know when to stop
or change direction, sound travels slower in fall—
something to do with thickness of scales--she’s easily
confused by the way voices are muffled by salt water.
She is reminded of her mother, captured by a Greek
fisherman—she was taken to live near the mountains
with only a river that felt like a paper cut every time
she swam. Her mother wanted to find her way back to the sea
but her memory of home was swept up in a brittle breeze
that the fisherman kept in a burlap bag, tied tight with a strand
of glossy hair. She doesn’t know how she got lost, it’s hard
to remember what it feels like to float through the water—
she begins to dream of barbed wire, mud and the Aegean .
A haiku made from broken glass
Five blackbirds peck at the side of the road
I never knew about those three days in Taipei
there’s a flower petal stuck under a red-gold leaf,
a completely different story every time it’s told,
the Danshui River murmurs—a sleepy lover
wanting to believe the words between the lie
watching a secret that floats on the water like a twig.
I follow your perfume to the back of your neck --
a collared finchbill picks it up, flies to the west bank
brush your arm and wish you could read my mind.
Three clouds linger behind the sun—afraid of evening,
Your mouth is wet with hope, an ocean without a shore
the moon is calm—not frightened by the howl of wolves
I feel lost and unforgiven with no idea of where to sleep.
If Charlie Brown had married the red-headed girl
Once you’re down for the count there is no turning back
the clock...No matter what is said and how the words taste
as they go down there will always be that sneaking feeling, a suspicion
that it was someone with your mouth and your face who had been taking
those breaths all along. You couldn’t imagine the disappointment in her smile,
can’t remember exactly when the sway went out of her hips.
In the end it’s predestined but you’re so determined to prove it wrong
you re-imagine the sky as your bed--clouds the only reason to fall asleep.
Maybe, if the timing is right, you will find another way back to the woman
who stole your voice and gave it to the moon. There are no guarantees--one person
lost doesn’t mean another will be found so you take what you can carry and leave
her to color outside the lines. The greens will find their way to the Mississippi River,
reds will find their way to her back pocket and the yellows are on their own --
you want to believe that rain will eventually bleed a hole in her story.
She takes a name that is familiar, places a language on the tip of your tongue
and when you wake it is morning. Your legs are heavy, the ashtray overflows --
you search for a leftover cigarette while she puts on her make up. The mirror is full
of memories and your mind wanders to the beginning -- when broken promises
had smooth edges that fit snug against this fable. The match sparks, sulphur scratches
your cheek and smoke covers your intentions. The light seems to dim and the last drag
is the sound of a world folding its wings.
©2007 by Alex Stolis
Alex Stolis lives in Minneapolis.