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Village

[a reflection on identity and home]


what an odd, odd village

tiered and constructed across

continents, across blossoming

lifespans

like

lifespans measured by bouts

of hurtling skyward to

new neighbours, same village

a tunnel of gracious aluminium

old-face, in the wicker house

in the high socks

with the sword that I still have

young-face, but also bearded

in the leaky truck

high-strung wisdom

same village

but also, faces outward,

inward and through you

the beautiful ones built mirrors

the kind ones built frames

the quiet, in dark hovels,

creaking auditoriums,

crimson-canvas shade

all built by listeners

the best ones knew my changing name

same village

which takes a

signal turn

flares up

from the house-boat

overbearing like her

best-intentions

like her

little golden girl, suffocating

sinking into the aluminium tunnel

a cross, the way

a regiment suspended on pews

a distressed (on purpose) sort of burning

few saw, few tired, and to witness

new dusty village corners

I ducked into alleys

lonely channels slumbering unperturbed

narrow and no longer thoroughly fair

but suddenly

green-white space,

expanding at steady state

my village boundaries, flattening

and I can see

the wicker house, still wickering

the leaky truck, still leaking

the house-boat, grounded

the regiment, frowning

all lifespans lengthening with the shadows

that raise and relieve a village

that raised and relieved me


what an old, old village

two rebellious lineages

nailed askew and through

hasty blueprints

red-eye photographs with

one face or the other overexposed

they tried and then disposed

of concrete

identity

and let’s face it--

children of every stripe

convinced us that we were not

white, or even right

for this village

like

any child, wild, tame,

might claim

to be consistent

but afraid and alone and detached

I skirted from shack to shack

built burning bridges

bloodied doorframes

cracked mirrors

one key for every fear

dropped, glinting in firelight

from the pier

but my village will always be

those who drift past at night

in the same firelight

and cast aspersions

cast their doubts and

pass delight to

castaways like I

most ghettos now are empty,

old-face having moved away

young-face without cause to stay

the tenements vacated

the umbrellas forsook

just as I expected

the bridges phantom pathways

floating out of soot

some sentinels remain, of course

--the regiment, undaunted

that sentiment the same

that had me wander on

and under canopies of rain

discover rusted iron signs that led

to rusted iron trains that

took my family away


what a cold, cold village

where leases last a year

and memories are taxed

and orphans run bureaucracies

that better men have left

I’ve seen

pioneers penalized and

hurried home

and

pastors crucified and

left alone

to direct

deconstructions

of the glorious cathedrals

they’ve been holding on their backs

and as the padlocks frosted over

a perfunctory salute

to me

will hide a bitter energy

as they too

are hurtled skyward

in the grating aluminium tunnel

and all told, all that’s left is the

crystallized hide

of shame and bravery

scraped upon me

so this settlement,

this great and righteous attempt

at me

has been glaciated

the crystal hide hidden

and, unbidden, a great tide

from our swelling waterways

ridden with twisted keys

and debris from

canvas, cars, cathedrals

all creatures great and small

all friendships, all

crushed, buried, deep

and

silent

flat

white

until

new light

layers of sediment creep

and seeded creatures crawl and

far below from some slow warming

all the frigid floods away

and I am here, floating

here on a shallow muddy ball

far above and far away from all

that made me

these rippling ridges

the only print

of the old, old village

that made me


what a good, good village

what a truthful place

what a painful, graceful place

it kept apace

and calls me

down-to-earth

and well-adjusted

and, well, I just did

what my neighbours were

and ran a course my own

and though never they nor I

ever owned it

this commune, this castle

this traveling canvas circus tent where

the only rent was love

and look how we’ve grown it

and it’s not fair, no

that my village won’t be where I go

and I do care, and I do bemoan

that the air is the closest thing to home

on my beaded belt

I’ll have it known

hangs a sword, and a key,

and a broken phone

are I need while

that odd village rumbles on

with indistinct clatter

of seven languages

six colors

shimmering chaos

that matters more than others

and at times a dry heat

beats upon the bars that

I once got my head stuck in between

and then, those chortling children

reassure me that neither I

nor they

have really changed

chain-link gardens,

magenta blooming eyes

framed by wire

rotten termite boards and haughty orbs

and four-by-four doors with rolling windows

even the invisible, terrible indifference

of similarity

that fence, too,

has been surmounted

and now my village

my good, good village

is boundless

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