Saturday, September 15, 2012

territory

The dog barks at the front door, he's done by the time I get there. Some stranger left a package; some stranger left the gate open wide. There's a lesson there somewhere. There's the fitting and the full, each moment another worn out mirror, another plan gone awry. The porch full of spiders, the yard dry as the vast expanse of empty high above. Gardens of stars, stripes painted by the light seeping through the fence boards. The dog isn't worried about intentions. It is what was done that had him in a lather. Transgression and impunity the sins he reviles. Territory just another name for respect.

You might know me by the splinters in your hands. You might know me by the counter-punch. The spill of myth and reason, the hungry tongue and the greasy spoon. These words stacked and counted. These walls ready to crumble for the right touch. Must I paint you a picture? Must I ring bell after bell? I cross each dismal border, gleaning smoke and ruin. I invade these suspect thoughts, every blemish and blessing collateral. You may not know me, save from these bottled letters, the save-our-souls tone gathered like kindling for a fire. You may not know me, save by the stagger of my stride and the bruises on your throat. Some passages are built only to support the architecture. Some bridges are best left to burn.

The landscape tells you the story the map thought to hide. The rise of a hill-side, the failing of a forest, the rough embrace  of curb and wheel. The lofty escarpment of soft skies and green branches gives way to haunted hills and stony fields, dust and deadfall and a detail of useless truths. Back fence gossip and front porch gall,  these are your tribes and flags. Claim what you may, wave what you will, the world does not keep track of these names and borders. Oceans and mountains and deserts of wavering will abound, all the alcoves and abutments dots and dashes. Save your threats and your prophecies, save your second guessing. Leave your gifts and your confessions, your certainty and your conceit. Mind your manners and slow your roll. There is no telling what line you are about to cross.

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