Monday, January 16, 2012

Mission Of Mercy

Arctic explorers come to my door.
Their eyes are desperate medicine vials filled with bitter latitudinal madness,
And their breath freezes in the air and falls
Like shattered tea cups
From the hand of a once-genteel madwoman.

I invite them in,
But they only stand there.
I may as well offer my hospitality to weird lights from out of the sky,
Or something stupid and made-up,
Like the perfect lover.

I would offer them a map,
Showing the way right to their doors next to the fruit stand or the public house,
But all I have is old napkins with your promises scribbled on them in spit.

I would offer them a drink, poor freezing miserable souls,
But I can't seem to locate anything in my broken-crate cupboards except
3-in-1 oil and kerosene.

I think the arctic explorers may be spirits, ghosts,
From the way they are blurring and wavering in front of me.
I go to light a match, but I have grown great useless paws--
What would you think, if I touched you now?
I think you would laugh.
I think you would slam your hope chest closed on my fingers,
And roll out your new husband on a trolley, to introduce us.

I try to tell the arctic explorers about how you once sought my kiss, my breasts, and the warm skin sanctuary of my body;
I try to tell them that I cannot rescue them,
And I see some human glimmer deep in the airless ice of their eyes.
They look even sadder, more lost, and then they say,
"But, madame, you don't understand.
It is us who cannot rescue you.

linked to Real Toads Open Link Monday


Kim Nelson said...

I love the way you lead us 'round, then back, full circle. Who is saving whom... always a matter of perspective.

Laurie Kolp said...

Ahh... great ending. I especially like:

But all I have is old napkins with your promises scribbled on them in spit

Kerry O'Connor said...

There is so much to marvel at in this poem, but these lines are laden with implications that set up the whole poem in quite brilliant fashion:

"Their eyes are desperate medicine vials filled with bitter latitudinal madness.."

The final two stanzas placed a death-grip around my heart - the cold finality..Ugh!

Anonymous said...

Your verse narratives always have such delectable teeth in them ... Loved how you made this encounter with those sherpas of extremity into soul-docs making a house-call. And the physic is weird, ain't it? What's needed is a big subzero kiss by a polar bear to set the heart back in order. - Brendan

Lynn said...

There's a twist!

Old Ollie said...

You weave amazing stories.

hedgewitch said...

The past is always with us, and nothing's worse than a trophy lover gloatingly rolled out on a trolley just to make the bile rise. Love love the last stanza, with it's ending so totally right, to both underline and counter the bitter middle.

(BTW, re: Brendan's comment, if needed,I have a polar bear you can borrow anytime. Polar Bear Chow is pretty expensive, though.)

Abin Chakraborty said...

brilliant images.lovely twist in the end.and that signature bitter-sour,dark-steel style.

Mary said...

Surprising ending! Who rescues who (in any situation) is always a matter of perspective.

Brian Miller said...

very nice shay...smiles at the realization of her being the one needing saved while all her thoughts are of them...the promises in spit on the napkin is of course all the rest is as well...

Dianne said...

a long long time ago I told a friend my ghosts came to me as if they had tread a long way across snow laden mountains to reach me

amazing!! how you share the feelings so many of us have

Susie Clevenger said...

The twist of who needs saving...the first stanza is magnificent...Such amazing talent you possess.

Hannah Pratt said...

Very nice. I like how it comes full circle and makes me think.

Lolamouse said...

Read this one several times. I love how the lost Arctic explorers recognize how the speaker is lost as well. Are these the same explorers from your earlier poem, the ones who were so rudely dismissed from the aristocrat's salon? I went back to read that one again too!

Lolamouse said...

Oops, almost forgot-I gave you a Zombie Rabbit award over at my place! Don't ask me what it is-I really don't know!

Mama Zen said...

That ending . . . oh, my stars and garters that is good!

Margaret said...

Nice twist and fine storytelling!

Heaven said...

Nice twist at the end...a paradox beautiful and sad wrapped together ~

Enjoyed the fine writing ~

Anonymous said...

A wonderful and haunting story you've woven for us.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

OMG. That first stanza is so incredible, it left me gasping in admiration and wonder......and then you followed up with five more. BRILLIANT writing - rolling the husband out on a trolley is amazing enough in itself.

Kay L. Davies said...

Fabulous. I was so caught up in the words, I wasn't expecting the ending. I love it.

Dave King said...

I didn't fall until a couple of lines before the last. Great work, it fascinated throughout.

Sara said...

All I can say is WOW. Didn't that coming:~)

Anonymous said...

truly sublime ending! truly striking poem!

can't you go back to work already?