Fish and Song

The end of May
mid morning, air cool, a bit windy
bicyclists ring high pitch bells
to alert pedestrians
for my safety
I twist my neck
in a constant painful knot

I wait to cross the street
on the corner
of the Kloveniersburgwal
of the Nieuwe Markt
to a very narrow fish shop
wedged between two
sixteenth century pack houses
This is where I buy my fish.

I hear his voice loud
I hear the bicycle rattle,
loose bumpers,D-minor,
I make out Eastern European
words and song.

Then I see him
He is tall, late forties, blue eyes
curly salt and pepper hair
He sits on his saddle
as if in a straight-backed chair
high above the handle bar, peddling hard
moving his body strong, right to left
He flies by me, his ballad
bringing up the rear.

What opera is he singing?

I enter the fish shop
only wide enough
for the fish man,
another customer and me.
Cod, sockeye salmon,
octopus, shrimp, langoustines,
crab, oysters, swordfish,
mackerel, sole, sardines,
long-tailed squid, and herring
are piled up high on ice.

I shoulder past the burly fish man
with his bloody rubber apron
red cheeks and a large fish
in his huge hands.
The fish strokes scales
into my hair.
Shocked I ask for fish prices.

Look lady the prices are all there.
In this shop sales are quickly done,
cod packaged, in hand, with a number
to pay the woman cashier.
In and Out.
But I long for more time
to smell and admire the fish
My back to the exit
the woman shoves a small cooked squid
into my mouth, I swallow fleshy
squid sand between my teeth.

The next day I hear
a free lunchtime concert
at the Amsterdam Concert Gebouw.
Hungarian choral music,
gloriously sung
by a hundred men and women,
their songs invite Zoltán Kodály,
Lajos Bárdos, and Béla Bartók
into my belly.

There and then I know
my tall bicyclist is here
singing about night, morning
gypsies eating Cirak cheese
baked ham, beet horseradish
and kabeljauw
their thick tongues,
red from Carpethian wine
purged in the morning
with strong coffee and new appetites.

The bicyclist’s voice brushes over me
tomorrow if I go back
to the narrow fish store
on the Kloveniersburgwal
I can refresh my memory
of a tall man riding his bike
singing about life
and filleted cod fish.


La Tarantula

In my dreams, resistance
breaks up
into miserable robberies
and unforeseen killings,
dead on
I cradle hilarious laughter
in soft flabby arms
like a mother holding her infant.
My life depends on this

When a big black spider
perhaps a tarantula
crawls under my blanket
I slash its hairy legs
with a machete
too many times
until my love pulls me towards him
and quiets my fear.
My life depends on this

The spider never knew resistance
It never knew what bad dreams
can make a woman do.

The next morning
I awaken with a dry poisonous throat
The all-legs-shriveled up spider,
La Tarantula,
lies on my pillow,
like a worn-out mandolin,
a pear shape, with a
severely damaged fretted neck.

La Tarantula had smoothed pine beams
tree sap, tiny amber nuggets
frozen in time.
in search of her mate.
My warm body obliterated her
in the middle of the night.

I rest with La Tarantula
my eyes wide open, vigilant,
her filaments, drying like angel dust,
detach deliberately from my sins
until there is no trace, no shadow
My life depends on this.

Flying Stones

Flying Stones, oil painting

Flying Stones, oil painting

Propelled into sky
tumbling at lightening speed
towards my body
lying in tall green grass
maroon dirt rivulets
my face unrecognizably
fierce, against flying rocks,
stone sculptures
carved of antiquity, undone
I hide in a crevice
of a deep gulley.

For days I lie there
waiting, wanting, wavering
between two worlds
lost and untethered
until I reach out, hands first
then my arms, one by one
the stones fly over me
they never even touch me
they do not break me into pieces
even though they are out of line
and not in their common place
they thunder along without me
I am still here, alone
without brothers, without sisters
no mother, no father
in a foreign land.

2014-08-01 00.46.04