IN THE WAKE OF DREAMS

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7. HOME GROUNDS



In whichever direction I looked
A grass carpet unrolled before me.
I took the one sprinkled with
Intimations of home—
Moved ahead by
Going back in time.

At the beginning of my time
Deep in a ring of garden shadows
Stood the ancestral manor house.
Mother in the doorway waving
Rushing me into her arms and
Embraced by familiar scents
Holding hands
We entered the house.

Inside Mother fell silent.
I followed her to a side room
Where she set down by the window
Unfolded a family heirloom
Embroidered by generations of women—
Yards of white linen
Spilling around her.

Seated in an ocean of folds
Mother picks up an invisible needle
Threads it with an invisible thread
And resumes the work.
Time and again
She lifts her face
Looks at the daughter
Standing in the doorway
But finding no words
Lowers her head.

The sun tilts and
The intimate folds fill with
Lush underwater greens.
Careful not to spill the green
Mother lifts a corner of the cloth
And shows me the heirloom's beginning—
Embroidered in low white-on-white relief
Was a map of a round mass of land
Encircled by water.

Finger pointing
She traces a whittle fence girdling
The Garden of Eden
Adam and Eve holding
An apple between them.
Her finger then moves to the longest
Of the four rivers spilling from Eden
Passes over the walled cities scattered
Along the banks moves across deserts
Forests teeming with beasts and
Comes to rest at a towering rock
In turbulent waters.
Atop the rock—a flaming nest
In the nest—a petrified egg.

Mother looks at me to see
Whether I understood that
To fulfill my destiny
I must leave Eden
Follow one of the rivers
Bypass human habitations and
Mind the beasts and reach the rock
The flaming nest—

I nod and Mother
Nodding toward a side door
Withdraws into her needlework.


*

In the next room
Stands Father
In underwater greens.
On the desk before him
The double-edged ancestral sword.
The hour too solemn for greetings
I kneel before him.

Gripping the ceremonial sword
With both hands Father
Raises it above my head
Then slowly lowers the tip
To the base of my neck
And halts.
Green flames dancing along
The sword's spine I plead
"It must be done Father please
I must go on."
Visibly shaken by my words
Already pale with remorse
Father lets the ritual tip
Draw a bead of blood.
Then puts the sward on the desk
Raises me to my feet and
Standing face to face
We look at each other
Utterly astonished—he
Amazed to see me unharmed
I amazed to be unchanged.
Embracing
We sway in each other's arms.
A green ray falls between us and
In a rush of endearments
Father blesses me and
I leave the room.


*

In the next windowless chamber
The groom-to-be stands under
A light bulb dangling over his head
A double-edged axe in his hands
A wooden block between him and me
The bride-to-be.

He fingers the shiny blades
Changes his grip on the handle
Jackknifes the air.
I wonder
Has anyone told him
That in the back swing
A double-edged axe is apt
To injure him?

Whispers swarming
In the folds of my dress
Relaxes his grip.
Our eyes interlock but
The stare snaps and it falls
Onto the butchering block
And on the block unstained
The blood not spilled
Takes shape—
A plump black pearl glistening.

The groom picks it up and
Offers it to the bride.
Too heavy to hold in hand
She puts the black pearl
Between his parted lips and
He swallows it whole.

In a single swoon
Balances shift
Balances settle.
In moon time he carves
A rosewood pin to
Hold up her hair.
A continent away
Honeycombs fill with honey.


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