A pint of strawberry stems
sits plastic and dull
on the bench in New Lynn.
We share the space;
least I could do.

Around us swirls the ghosts
of the tai-chi women,
still clad in fashionable plum
sweatsuits and moving like
Santa. These ghosts provide
the intention and presence
today; I told them it’s up to them
I’m too slouched to do it.
I’ve been tasked with
entertaining myself, and I’ll tell ya:
drains a soul. Those tai-chi women,
even so long gone–weeks, I tell you–
cached up enough life
in those magic palms
that the clouds curtain God’s underbelly
and my hair still grows lighter.

I’m here in random New Lynn
for no good reason at all,
steeped to the socks in overcast melancholy
and a pint of strawberry stems
which got me through five Grace Paley stories.
Boy, that woman can teach you
more about humanity than a mirror.

I imagine most of my problem
is that I’ve eaten too many walnuts today;
futile efforts to gain a few points
and my microbiom is in uproar.

Gentle! Creatures!
Like mother, like daughter–they remind me.
I had already apologized
for thinking the microbiom mythical,
like some Atlantis or El Dorado.
I tell my nutty biom to think more tai-chi,
gesture towards the women,
they bow.

All this melancholy makes me
sluggish, thick–
“languid”, I would say,
if I were in a more ambitious mood.

I’m surprised to see
I’m still scribbling words;
possibly just to not wholly
dishonor the tai-chi spirit monopoly
on this part of New Lynn.

I wonder how many words
proper representation and articulated catharsis
is going to take.

I wish I could earn a plum sweatsuit.

I wish I hadn’t eaten so many tiny brains.

Lucky that my mind folds slower
than the laundry
which gives us plenty of time.
Lucky I’m facing into the wind
so my hair witch-flies behind me
which makes me feel magical
like my friends, the tai-chi
ghosts, still going at it.
Although, come to think,
witchcraft is most likely
anti-chi.

I have to go now.
Attend to life’s many expectations
of a soul just trying to digest
and earn a few points.

I bow to you, too.


The reader brings his or her own perspective to a poem and gives it meaning.

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