No One Told Me the Perils of a Gypsy Life
Skinande Skinande Skinande
I chant as if the words have shamanic power
And when it was frozen slick
we slid down on our --
I cannot even remember the word;
they do not have them here.
On the Indian oak I hung my lyre
The unkind say,
'But you chose it.'
As if you are not allowed
to weep for what you chose to leave behind.
As if you were not allowed
to feel lonely in the new country.
People stake you down if you live a life of free will:
they coddle those who live without choices,
martyred to fate and fuzzy television sets
in dim rooms chained by bosses,
and should you try another way,
break clean from fences to dewy
meadows and sear your legs on thistles
they say from below, 'Just come home soon,'
The vagabond finds
snowdrops beside the castle.
The alien finds
ladybugs in the gorse.
The plum tree has
done up her buttons
but there is snow in Boston.
I should never have
bought that blue web
from the Roman tinker,
or ate the green sweetheart
on Valentine's Day.
The silver threads through the
scarf were bewitched
and the green heart
said, 'Be mine.'
I belong to my gypsy life,
but no one told me of its perils.
No one said the handle of my suitcase
would wear my palm down
and not the other way around.
That I would miss the ground under my feet
or miss the woods where the echoes are mine.
'Autonomous' and 'automobile' I
reflected, as I crunched
the green talc
and felt the wind hit my Boat
and rock it like an ark
and I sank down on the
plush blue seats in
the empty parking lot
of a church
and savored my solitude,
imagining living in a
cabin on a mountain, before
going home to a hot dinner
made by my mother.
Now as I sit by an Irish river, I sometimes wish
I had never dreamed that dream.
'The first nine months
are the hardest,' the jockey told me,
'But nine months are all I have,' I said.
She didn't answer, and turned away and
uncomfortably hiked up her collar.
I wear a track through red muck
and my boots grow several inches
thick with clay,
and for a moment I would go back
just to touch the cracks in the tar
on which my car tires stood.
Sentimentality simplifies needs;
makes longing a basic alchemy:
just give me my tree
and my mom's eggplant parm
and the traffic light by Collela's
and I can ignore any greater hole,
with her hot cheese
and that roasted purple.
My roots are now spidery
filaments like hair, wet and white
that cling to my finger pads when
I try to dislodge them gently
from the soil to
re-pot my heart
into the new trays --
flimsy plastic painted
to look like terracotta,
burnt sienna that could
crunch in one easy fistful:
these trays are what I'll carry
the substance of myself back in,
packing my fetuses into all
four corners of my bags,
zipping up and making sure
not to snip off ending-curls of vines,
and I wonder how much I'll
leave behind this time and
what crumbs of me will be
on the airline floor. 'Excuse me, miss,
but who is bringing in the compost? There are black
bits everywhere.' She shakes out a cabin magazine
and the balls of little white fertilizer
fall into the vomit bag, and she points
to the moist clods, rich as Africa, under our feet.
'Oh, sorry, ma'am. That's just my blood.
My entrails. My heart. You see,
I'm leaving a place I lived for --'
But she walks away to get a broom,
not interested in hearing, and maybe
I'm not interested in hearing myself, either,
because it's a story of a dozen cycles,
only with changing names, and as
I lean my head back against the blue seat,
I dream what it would be like to be
an ancient garden,
and have grandchildren run in the grass
and trip and split their noses on
my fountain and when they say,
'It needs to go,' they find that the
fountain will not go
because the cement grew a
taproot so deep
that the fountain