Into a dry lakebed of black salt, into the dead oasis,
denuded husk, crest of dune, sand-vortex and grit,
I came to you from another place, an aged denizen, almost next door—
skin-worn and foot-fatigued, broken-hinged and hungry,
bent-backed, bow-legged, flat-footed, tired,
the standard of your presence rebuffing grains thrown by wind.
Deja-vu trickery: we’ve been here, heard that; seen this before.
I want to remember the only time this was real, a tangible togetherness,
sometimes vulture-eyed, sometimes raspy-voiced,
my snake-fangs and coyote bones sinking in a hazy ravine
just like the people of yesterday who were also me.
Moon-sputtering gloss in arid radiance, fingers curled to fist,
neither fully dead nor fully still alive,
I who am and will never be,
a quietness of lung-taking, releasing blue puffs to the natural beyond
like voices falling through to an openness of space,
hands touching spirit-vistas and the walls of eternity,
as you anticipate, soon to sleep in this place at last,
the place that holds the taproot of my life,
without me or without you and only certain-to-be.
There is no doubt you will remember how you found me here,
existing in the fear-of-death which is death;
driest reptile-skin and rattle-tail disappearing,
feet bound in gauze and linen, mouth grimaced open,
depleted essence letting me drift from that world to this,
the I who was certain would not die, the necessary birth, but no different;
so turn away from my scars and weary lines,
the woebegone hair, the lizard-tongue rough of my face,
failing eyes, bad knees, deafened ears, weakened heart;
knowing the soul’s simplicity makes a sacrament of everything else.
About the Poet
Richard King Perkins II is a state-sponsored advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. He lives in Crystal Lake, IL with his wife, Vickie and daughter, Sage. He is a three-time Pushcart nominee and a Best of the Net nominee. Writing for six years, his work has appeared in more than a thousand publications including The Louisiana Review, Bluestem, Emrys Journal, Sierra Nevada Review, Roanoke Review, The Red Cedar Review and Crannog. He has poems forthcoming in The William and Mary Review, Sugar House Review, Plainsongs, Free State Review and Milkfist.