Divination

I love the way the sunlight twinkles bark

just before the sun goes down

–when cicadas buzz and sings the lark–

accentuating each scaly spot of skin

and every scar that connects them

exposing every untold story

not otherwise easy to see

I climb and trace the wrinkles

with my fingertips, touch the ghosts of

feathery caresses in transparent periwinkle

all the stories imprinted, I remember,

left there that September to September

recalling the time I sat in that branch

engrossed in a book I found by chance

in the traveling library, so absorbed that day

I fell out of the tree and broke my arm

it was the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay

that I fell into when I was nine, or maybe ten,

I worried more about the book than my descent

reminding me of the woods where I walked and mused

and learned the hard lesson that robins will refuse

even kill their young if they are scented with man’s touch

recollecting that, in the summer, high as I could climb I saw

waves of corn stalks slosh all around us and such

brought ships with adventures from far off lands

through one of those wind chimed seas my brother and I swam

for a mile to meet the nicest lady who fed us cookies and milk

until she died in the Palm Sunday tornadoes, with her ilk

she was our mother’s sister’s husband’s aunt

which made her a kind of relative–it was like that there

everyone was in some way related, so it was not for want

that kids could never get away with anything dumb,

some cousin of your mama’s sister’s neighbor, would plumb

call her to say she had seen you down at the creek

when you were supposed to be up at the garden picking beans

that was also the year I read Kant and Descartes,

from my father’s limited library of philosophers,

and Freud, and decided halfway through he wasn’t so smart

by god, he was a pompous woman-hating ass and

I put the book away, and have not read him since and

it’s possible I became a feminist in that moment

Freud awakened the ire that caused me to foment

a rebellious whisper inside myself: I did not imagine this,

I did not want this–not even in my imagination,

not in my id, my ego, or my superego–his was a fucked up analysis–

not with my Eros, not with my Thanatos,

and he can leave my libido out of this holocaust–

I am not the one that’s crazy, you stupid man

but I knew why my father was his fan

and maybe I knew something about Freud

that even he didn’t know about himself

he should have spent more time employed

with tracing the scars and wrinkles of an old tree

just before the sun went down over a tasseled sea

leaving ghostly imprints on its gnarly skin, recon sorties

that mapped his soul by telling its stories

— Able Boodha

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