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Amy M. Bartlett

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I will be trouble you know. There will be days I want to be in Cairo - badly. "Dinjan or Calcutta." I will want to find my tormentors; my instincts will search for those who will kill me until Iím alive.

I will think my home Jade Cove and the bearded man on my doorstep my common-law husband overnight. Stories so real in every wind washed pebble, I beat them into my brain so I can read the sand clearly.

I will want my Steinbeck in a pink shirt and yellowed fingers, beautiful cruelty that drinks the milk from the breasts of other menís wives, while other menís children sleep at the foot of the bed.

Then there is Methuselah who told me in Spanish that the power was mine, he would do as I say. He would welcome me with blonde dancing curls and skin tanned as leather, the very mountain itself rising naked to meet me. The Earth and the weeds the goodness and trees, a lake at his lips where I will dive and fish for words to calm me. I know this dirt and I will want this man I do not love.

But all these things I will not go to, if itís you that holds me here
and forgives me the things I say -- the things I donít say.
These roman callings will only last a day at a time. I promise never to go - not even to taste.
But when they burn their oils --
and stand so close to my own stanza --
I cannot help my breathing, and their scent will singe me from within. Have you ever felt hot oil in your lungs?

But I will not go. If you will forgive me all the past imagined lives that taunt me at once in the present, the colored ghostly menacings in my head. If you will understand as I fight the lies, with my hands clenched between my knees and my eyes shut to the fantastic odysseys, I will tough it out. For you. I will open my eyes when the gypsy camp has passed. I will stay and know you are real. And I will greatly love you then. If you will.