I lived where the afternoons swam in the breeze
and the fish won at the fair didn’t die,
waiting patiently in their plastic bag til the bowl
could be filled with rocks and the dire pagoda.

I said my prayers at altars where the sun filled every
hollow niche that never held a god or need for one —
didn’t know of the hermits tucked away under
rocks, candles snuffed for lack of air in the damp
cave’s exhaustion as the faithless roared overhead
laughing, milk and honey of the earth dribbling off
their cheeks as they drove tired horses even faster.

I never saw what the broom swept up then clung to,
the grey tendrils of soot and dander caught in the straw;
I believed the men could nail down far prey with an arrow
and the woman had hearts sewn solely onto one tree.

And I played, oblivious in the shadowed corner, while
oak trunks writhed and the old wept out their shame.

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