Reading the Tarot Cards
She drives her 1987 red corvette
hurtling over asphalt
bumping over potholes
creaking over cracks in the road.
The past chases her
down a road of sorrows
and wails at her
like a cat being smacked
by a broomstick.
Then she sees the gleam of white clapboard
the rows of petunias lined up
like guardians at a gate
and the green flashing sign
of the tarot card reader.
â€œYour future is hereâ€
sings out the sign
on that white house
on that mountain road
where the rainbow starts.
She clenches the wheel
with fingers of steel
and slams on the brakes
with the force of a rhino
charging at a rival for love.
She bounds for the doorway
and a chair slides over
to scoop her up in its arms
as a woman
in a tie-dyed skirt
slaps down the tarot cards
flipping them over
to reveal what she never wanted to see.
My cancer is back, she says on twitter
as if announcing she were going bowling
or eating a veggie sandwich
or walking her dog.
Her calmness jolts me to
a cracked universe
where reality shifts out of sync.
Weâ€™ve never met off the internet
yet she throws a dart at my heart
with this news.
require the blowing of a trumpet
or the preface of a prayer
or the offer of a chair
to sit down on.
But then a host of other tweeters
and an icon banner
to support Bug (her twitter name)
appears and reseats the planets
back into their appointed rotation.
â€œMy cancer is backâ€ reverberates
like butterfly wings against a tornado
and the sun cries at the news
and dims the Earth,
but only for a nanosecond.
We know she will fight back
against the invader of her body,
the interrupter of her life.
Jenny will not be held for ransom
by genetics or fate.
She Slew Dragons
She dreamed of marzipan moons,
and sourpatch stars,
and raspberry snow cone mountains
as she ate thin soup from a can
and saltine crackers from the box
that perched tilted on a shelf
of the metal cabinet
bearing scars of punches
from fists that flew everywhere.
She planted lavender lollipops,
golden lemon drops and red licorice whips
in the garden of her mind
because all was concrete
and peeling paint around her.
And she rode pink ponies that flew
to meet Jackâ€™s giant
atop the beanstalk
as she imagined defeating the ugly
monster in her motherâ€™s bedroom.
She grew up and slew dragons
of ignorance and hate speak
of fools who throw words
that wound like brickbats
on skin of any color.
She became a teacher.
Chisel and chainsaw
hammer and hacksaw
ice pick and blowtorch
the manâ€™s tools for reclamation of his soul
and release from bitter bondage.
Shayna had been his woman
she had left with three suitcases and his red sports car
she was on permanent vacation
from his life and his heart became shackeled to hurt
so he was determined to bring her back
as the frozen image he knew she was.
The man had bought
a block of frozen water
six feet high
and three feet wide
to recreate her.
He stared at Shaynaâ€™s picture there in his hand
drawn with quick angry strokes
on paper eight and a half by eleven.
He scowled at it
and a drop of salty liquid descended down his cheek.
His hands were the hands of a farmerâ€™s son
who chopped wood for the winter
who fed pigs in the summer
who stroked the cowsâ€™ udders.
Those hands so muscular with large veins
and smooth neatly trimmed finger nails
stroked the paper and felt its bumps and valleys that trapped
the solid image of her beauty
and he wanted to tear it to bits.
Instead, he stared down that six foot block of frozen water
and picked up the chainsaw for his first cut.
The noise was like a scream.
Could the ice feel anything?
Could Shayna feel anything ten thousand miles away?
Could she know he was recreating her?
As parts of the ice fell away
first to the chainsaw
then to the chisel
then to the ice pick
the cold bits flew at him cooling his anger
cut by cut.
At the end he pulled her from the ice to stand before him
he stroked her cheek and whispered
all the sweet words he had meant to say
all the things he had meant to do
all the words of forgiveness he could never say.
Slowly, the chains around his heart
started to crack and the shackles broke free
Then he walked away
back to his life
leaving her for the sun to devour.