The doors were open, front and back.
So I walked in, finding it full with no one in sight.
With both kinds of life – the alive and otherwise.
Should I be here? Will I be caught? I asked myself.
An old man lived there; I just knew it, I did.
It smelled of him, in that way of old skin.
In a red silk robe over pajamas.
Lots of brass and class - grown-into .
I could see him if I didn’t look –
off to the side, in another room.
He seemed to be grinning, inviting me to stay.
“Have a look, you lady, why don’t you. “
Then it was easy; a delight for me too.
A letter in wait, with its pen uncapped to the side -
on a desk by a window. Papers all around it.
Persians on the floor.
Countless words in hard dusty binds.
The foam of antiquity on the brim.
Was it all up for grabs? Had he died; did I care?
Many strands entwined with a mouthpiece at the end.
A necklace for a giant. Only it was an instrument - golden too.
Instantly I knew its name, only I’ve forgotten it since then. I
knew I shouldn’t take anything, but really, just one thing.
So I looked at the front door; nothing to worry there.
Across the courtyard, a couple was absorbed in their affairs,
Mere silhouettes, who either didn’t notice or didn’t care.
So I took the instrument.
And with it, I walked out the door past the preoccupied couple,
who still didn’t notice or still didn’t care.
Scampering home with it, I was nothing but glad.
As I had taken the only one thing I had to have.
When I came home, and saw –
that more things awaited me, I stared with dismay.
That little windowless room, dim with warm light, glowed –
so happy it was!
A caravan’s tapestry of timeless appeal spread out in front of my eyes.
I picked it up, and lifting it with the tips of my fingers, formed a tent.
And as I did that, I saw the necklace -
more alluring than any I had ever seen –
an art-nouveau’s treasure dangling at the chair's elbow.
So I put it on, clasping it around my neck.
And as I traced the beads falling across my collarbone, I thought –
I thought there was never anything made so perfectly for me.
Then I almost forgot about the golden instrument.
Except I was grateful it had brought me these things.
It had invited it.
Then I was proud, thinking how clever I’d been.
I sat like that for a while.
But then, suddenly, the most awful foreboding came over me.
A most terrible dread.
And I knew something was wrong.
And I knew everything would go wrong.
So I took the necklace off, but that didn’t help.
I looked at the caravan’s tapestry, the golden instrument, and the necklace -
they were all there. The room was heavy then;
I could feel the old things and the old man along - they had me.
They had been toying with me all along.
Only I lost, and now had to pay up with my life.
Monday, June 4, 2007