My doctor thought of Time in terms of a green wound,
a sly, leech-lidded reservoir under the skin-
Time was his wireframe glasses and the clock I punched
when he told me the forecast of those old wounds
when my life gathered around me to hug itself through this…
and in my mind I went back as a ghost to
all my future high school reunions
and did not hear my name all night.
In town the dust gathers. In skins of yellow dust the people pray.
The chapel wilts all week, dips in the middle. An old host. Chestnuts hit the roof during service and belief thuds into the hearts of men, frightens the women. They fear the Harvest. They know the roots are here to stay.
Paint peels off an old barn in the sun. A new cat every day.
The farmers reach into the ground, dung clung to the heels of their boots.
The sun tips water in their mouths, and something brazen and heavy clatters down the road. A patch of dust swabbed over the elbow, scabbed over the heathen ground.
The people wait for wheat to curl.
They dig up the virile harvest.
Cheung drew one long breath by the bleachers and coughed, setting his throat aflame. Nerves. Scorching his insides, without fail, year after year.
This year was special. Cheung’s promotion had followed a fierce string of bad luck- the loss of his mother, a cheating girlfriend- but now, he waited to usher in the new year as the venerable Head of the Dragon.
Cheung pushed through the crowd, taking his place at the head while his colleagues lined up behind him. The music began and the scarlet dragon sprang to life, undulating over the crowd’s heads like a silk ribbon threading a sea of black pearls. Cheung swung the pole deftly, in time with the drums and precise choreography that had taken weeks to master.
As the dance peaked, Cheung lost himself in the great smoking head of the beast. Tomorrow was a fresh start- the promise of a new year turned over like a leaf in his old heart.
-originally publ. on flashfriday.wordpress.com