by Peg Aloi

I visioned you, a dream of drowning
But joyous, triumphant, epiphanic
Farewell to the sky gods, the sylphs, the salt air
Withdrawn into subterranean seclusion
Borne away upon jangling golden bridges.
Safe. At last. Leave us.

And, losing you, inviolate isle
I too withdrew, to muse on Mayan forests
Crumbling temples, bloody altars
Coca-stoned pilgrims queued beneath canopies
Eyes bright as goldleaf, lit up by avatars
Clenching bone necklaces, dancing of dreaming
Slouching towards anthropological oblivion.
Safe. At last. Leave us.

Thence to Salisbury Plain
Sun-drenched hillocks, curiously treeless
And nary a quarry in sight
Buttery Cotswolds to the south notwithstanding
Stones erected in starlit ceremony
No one knows who they were, or, what they were doing.
A thin golden sickle grubby with oakmoss
The only romance I seem likely to conjure.
Safe. At last. Leave us.

Plundering the barren marshes of Denmark
Cloying peat liquor like bog-distilled perfume
Scorching my throat with malt and smoke.
I toast my newfound friends, my friends!
Blesséd, adornéd, annointed, beatific,
Poisoned, garroted, drowned, beaten,
Tannin-wizened harvest lords and wintry queens
Bedecked with silver bowls, golden torcs.
Safe. At last. Leave us.

Uninitiated, yearning, green
I stalk, I roam, I borrow books
Knowing I trespass, smitten and shameless
Opportunistic cryptozoologist
Armed with ink, drunk on pseudo-history
Would hunt the narwhal, molest manatees, poach plesiosaurs
And happily suck seawater until I die
If death by drowning yielded up some slippery treasure
Glimpse of gold coins on vermilion sands
Flow of words, cold grasp of hands

Where did you go?
And where did I stay?

Peg Aloi would be quite happy to live as a gypsy traveller, but she also enjoys nesting in her little fixer upper in Albany, NY with her husband, dog and 5 cats. She works as a film critic and teacher of film studies, as well as a gardener, baker and tarot reader. She is a singer and gatherer of traditional songs. She does not like cherries and would be hard-pressed to think of a poem about them. But a former boyfriend did introduce her to "Strawberries" by Edward Morgan which begins "There were never strawberries/ like the ones we had/ that sultry afternoon" and ends "let the storm wash the plates." Mmmmm, strawberries.

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