Do Gentry

It brings good fortune, I read, to view the new moon over the left shoulder.
And:  it's bad luck to light three cigarettes from the same match.
Now I understand why my grandmother kept a dog-eared farmer's almanac
under the blue teapot she never used except for company.
Is the moon full today?  Waning?  New?  Each morning, she opened the book
and read aloud, slowly, stroking the words with her forefinger
as if reading Braille:  Friday's a good day to plant string beans.
And:  just as I thought--tonight's the new moon.
I pictured it slender and white as one of the good shoes she kept
in the narrow box and crisp paper they came in.
She told me what time the moon rose and set and where in the sky
we'd see it if we remembered to look.  Which we never did.
And yes, we covered our mirrors in a thunder storm.
And yes, I learned too late the truth of what she always told me:
it's bad luck to see the new moon for the first time through glass.
And:  if three people are photographed together, the one in the middle
is certain to die first.
Each morning in the same acacia,
the same mockingbird mimics the crystal gazer
who channels Hindu sages and Atlanteans,
the astonished twitterings of the little gypsy
who pretends to read my palm.
Then the thermometer with its ominous silvery rising & falling.
Warnings & variations on warnings:  an evil karma
in the shadow of each darkly handsome stranger.
A hush follows the mockingbird's admonitions:
the crystal clears:  the sprinklers come on.
Over the rose beds, an awkward silence.
All night, dreams nudge their densely worded messages
beneath my door.  Over the breakfast tray, I decode them:
passports & foreign currency always portend a death.
By afternoon, the morning's cut roses are feverish,
collapsing into the wilted foliage of evening,
when I hold the pendulums--still--above my fate
until it swings:
--until the candle gutters
and the floorboards creak
and I turn to ask,
Is that you?

Soul, you remind me, does not reside in bone.  Soul
peers out of the unlikely flesh the way a deer mirrors
the forest's stillness, a single clear sound all around it,
a bell-note calling the heart away from the world.
As you speak, I'm secretly distracted,
thinking of how his shoulders felt beneath my hands,
the fabric of his shirt thin and damp, but that's
not thinking, it's the body trying to locate a single path
to follow through the unmapped forest of desire.
Which you tell me is impossible.
With practice, I say,
I can tempt the deer forth
into the empty meadow.
She feels safe there,
breathing the cool scent of moonlight,
the taste of salt
almost sweet
on her tongue.

Do Gentry

Do Gentry has had poems published in Sulphur River Literary Review, Ekphrasis, Fourteen Hills, Rhino, Spoon River Poetry Review, and elsewhere.  The Nightmare Parable was the winner of the 2004 Permafrost chapbook competition.  She lives in Sacramento, California.



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