by Richard Fein
The Montreal Review, January 2010
" (Oil on panel, 8.5"x8.5") by Nathalie Maranda at Galerie de Bellefeuille
(1367 Greene Avenue
Montreal, Quebec, H3Z 2A8)
A PLEASANT HAUNTING
Screaming, "Harry, Harry, God he's only five," as she ran towards me,
I turned and was face to face with a face of fear I never before had seen,
a wrinkled young old lady running towards me with arms out wide.
But when she saw my face she passed me by still screaming Harry, Harry
above the beach chatter and crashing surf.
She ran knee-deep into that ocean
with its incoming waves like the folds of an unrolling carpet covering a face.
Dozens of sand-caked eyes scoured the sea,
while sunbathers rose from their blankets echoing Harry, Harry,
my father among them, while he kept me close by.
But then the sweetest shrill came from across the beach,
a policeman held a little five-year old on the highest boardwalk rail,
while his badge gleamed in sunlight and his whistle trumpeted little boy found.
And that old lady's face, that young woman's face, that big sister's teenage face,
truly relief from fear is a sip from the fountain of youth,
for her wrinkles vanished as if a good witch cast an even gooder spell,
that's how I saw it then, myself just another five year old.
She fell to her knees and crossed herself
while whitecaps lapped around her legs.
And her sudden calm smile, a subdued yet widest grin,
like the face of a marble churchyard Mary,
that memory pleasantly haunts me even now--
the serene girl kneeling on brown muddy sand
then my father hugging me and lifting me high.
MEDITATION IN LIEU OF PRAYER
Supposedly, everything follows from divine premeditation
from winning the lottery to an asteroid smashing the planet.
But if Heavenly Father wrote his plan in indelible ink
then what's the point of petitioning from my larynx to god's cochlea?
And if revision can be won by prayer then after all erasures and rewrites,
wouldn't the blueprint become an unreadable smudge?
Should I lose hairs scratching my head for answers?
I've just seen one of my neighbors,
Grandfather Lucas in his garden holding a new toy over his head
with his visiting grandchildren all yelling give it to me--
please, me! me!! me!!!
And old Lucas kept asking them who loved him the most.
That grandfather in that going-to-weeds garden
once was a great howdy-neighbor soul
but now shambles snail-like to senility
NOT A BUTTERFLY DREAMING
Am I a butterfly dreaming, or a man who dreamed he was a butterfly?
Not a butterfly dreaming for I have only a whimsy of flight,
and were I to alight on a blossom the pollen would make me sneeze.
Besides, I've often seen my true dreamer,
not as a vast vision among clouds
or as jeweled wings flittering among flowers,
but as a reflection on my smudgy bedroom mirror.
He snores, needs a shave and clean underwear.
I even hear his stomach gurgle, which explains my constant gas.
I can't poke him awake,
for I have no substance in his world.
He is after all just a reflection of me.
Or am I merely his dreamtime citizen?
If so then I wish he'd have more wet dreams.
Is he God?
How could I possibly be in God's dreams?
Besides, God would be dreaming all of you up also
and not even Satan deserves such punishment.
But I am someone's dream,
that someone there lying on the bed laughing.
He always dreams of comedy and that's my nightmare.