SONG OF THE SENTRY’S WIFE
I came as a young woman to your house.
I wiped your rice bowls with fat leaves
of the fig & boiled banka bark for your tea.
I loved the pale orange sun when it rubbed
its fingers on thatching while the world
dreamed. Lizards darted to and from the light.
By day never was there a moment to be alone
to myself like a goshawk is. Only at midnight
after your pleasure did I know my heart, its
voice quiet with a stove’s whining embers.
Not many moons waned before I brought you a son,
clear of mind strong of limb. The cry of song-
birds filled every chink. I lay down content
in your joy.
The house is quiet now. I write
by a single candle. My hair is short & gray.
The river has flooded its banks many times.
Years have been rich and poor. My child
is a man, a trader known even in the king’s city.
All has changed except you. Your arm is strong
still & I give thanks for that. I have known your
anger flash like lightning & your deceit & pride.
I have suffered your silences in an endless
Laurel dances in wind as
night passes. I see dew sparkle from a distant
lantern. I could unbind my shoes & run down the
path to the laughing stream & cool my feet in
pure, black waters. I could loosen my hair.
I could go.
The ashes would be cold and gray
when you wake. I do not stir.