The immortal earth of page after page

Of worn remembrances

Of told but forgotten spirits

The lost poem you were told to memorize

And waited until the last moment

To look for

Even though her notes were gone

As you and her mentor

Stirred from his retirement

Out of kindness

Frantically search for them

At the 11th hour

She herself is also nowhere to be found

And you tell him

You never had any intention of memorizing them

You tell him that even the dull-witted young minister

With the 24 lined hymns

Read from notes on top of a lectern.

“Look,” he says, pulling a large leather-bound book from her top shelf

“Is this where it came from?”

The author is familiar to you as he begins leafing through onion-skinned pages

Dust rising, illustrations of detailed animals leaping into your vision

Detailed landscapes, mountains of beauty

Together you both scan the pages

Reciting the words that fall into your eyes

Hoping to find that magic of that familiar poem

Then he turns a page of a title

That sounds close

His old finger touching the thin leaf

Mumbling

“Let me see,” you say

And read aloud the first two lines:

“The immortal earth

The precious immortality of the earth is wont of nothing more

Than to our souls immortal worth…”

“This is it,” comes your whisper

You read more

Looking for the monkey and the dog

There it is . . .

“Can I take this book to the ceremony?” you ask

The answer is definite

No.

Of course not.

No.

The book is too fragile

Too valuable

Too old and precious

Like the earth itself

And she would never speak to either of them again

If they took it

“Copy it down”

And you do.

The old man leaves you alone

You begin writing down every word for the people

Even for the young minister who thinks you are the stupid one

They will all get to hear the words

Memorized or not

In just a nick of time.

 

“The extinction of entire species

Cause no tears of the monkey

With no hair

As he emerges from the beauty and the sublime glory

Of the pounding rain

Into silence

Only to chain his dog

To his small yard

Once again.”

 

“There is the rain of blessing

And the sun of hope

As the lamb totters

On her first steps

Onto the April promise.

The monkey weeps –

Finally the monkey cries

At last.”

 

The audience remembers your reading

 

And the woman is still missing.

 

Taft, CA 5:20 am
January 29, 2021