Never The Twain

 

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Never The Twain

“And never the twain shall meet.”

This was the chorus that my grandparents often chanted at me when family members started rowing with each other over one trivial incident or another.
“But what happens when the twain do meet,” I used to ask.
“Don’t be silly,” they said. “The twain never meet. Ever.”
But I know very well that they do.
I know.
I’ve seen them together.

Funny things, they are, the twain, and opposites in so many ways. But so nice, in spite of what some people, especially my grandparents, used to say about them.

Not only do they meet, but they can be happy together and very, very friendly.
“Long time, no see,” the twain say, and they often embrace quite warmly with a bunch of flowers held between them.

Mind you, the twain can also be quite awkward and occasionally very abusive towards each other. I remember my mother and father fighting “like cats and dogs” as my grandparents used to say.

Now, my grandparents had a cat. It was black and white and striped like a zebra. They called it Spot. My parents had a dog. It was an English Cocker Spaniel, gold in color, and off-spring to a famous sire, the Six-Shot Woody Woodpecker. They called the dog  Wimpy but it was by no means a wimp and fought with everything in sight, especially the cat.

So when my father and mother fought and the family cat and dog fought, I thought, quite reasonably in my opinion, that the dog (with his short hair) was male and the cat (with her long hair) was female, and that was the reason why they fought like cats and dogs. And “never the twain shall meet” as my grandparents used to say about my mother and father and the cat and the dog.

I guess it was too early to learn about the birds and the bees when, young and all too innocent, I was learning about the cats and the dogs.

And of course it’s only natural that the twain should meet. My mother and my father, like the cat and the dog, had to meet somewhere, didn’t they? How else would I be here? Now, we weren’t the sort of family that practiced contraception by throwing stones at the storks to keep the babies away.

But I could never work out why the cat always had female kittens while the dog had all-male off-spring. That was a bit too much for me, and nobody ever really explained anything I those days.

 

The Dancer 10, 11 /11

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10

on Monte Albán the danzantes
sway to soft music
their shadows dance in and on stone
as they have danced for centuries

wind rustles the grass
moon casts sharp shapes

darkness ascends the temple steps
huge fingers grasping upwards
an owl’s feathers clutching at the skies

at dawn tomorrow
the sun will rise beneath our feet
we will squint down on its majesty
we will pluck the ripeness of its orange
in our outstretched hands

11

our last night together
I pluck a blossom from the tulipán tree
a final offering of my love

she gives it back
I place it in the pocket of flesh
where I once kept my heart

tomorrow when the flower breaks
it will stain my shirt
a damp splash of blood
no longer running in my veins

the scent of our happiness
will cling forever to my fingers

The Dancer 8,9 /11

 

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8

inside my dancing head
the fires have gone out

without her hands to guide me
my feet have turned clumsy

scars layer my wrists and ankles
star crossed bindings
cutting against the grain

I gather a harvest of stars
she holds them in her eyes

her fingers are grasshoppers
making love in my hair

when she kisses my fingernails
one by one
we both know our bodies will never be the same

9

together we weave a slender cage
she cuts out my heart with her tongue
placing it on an altar inside the bars

she locks the tiny door
a silvery key wrought from moonstone

my fluttering heart grows miniature wings
next time the door is opened
my wings will fly me to her lips

my heart is a caged bird on a tiny perch
it chirrups a love song
its image in the mirror answers back

breathless it scrapes its wings on the moon
its body striving upwards to the stars

The Dancer 6,7 /11

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6

high above us
the ghost of a melody
shaking its head
wringing its hands

we return at last
to light and air
the moon’s vacant face
scowls in an empty field

someone has plucked the stars
one by one
and threaded them like a chain of daisies

now there are no sky flowers
to adorn the night

7

noche de rábanos
someone has taken a knife
and peeled an enormous radish

this cartoon moon face
this full skull hanging from nothing
this lantern lighting from above

now my lover sculpts time
and space
into small chunks

each sacrifice
a jewel between her fingers

I pin to my chest
three small notes
and a skeleton of words

The Dancer 3,4, 5 /11

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3

when she makes her music
familiar spirits return to the earth
dancing in a sash of moonlight

she recreates an ancient spell
gold letters plucked from dark scrolls
no wands no words
just water’s purity
flicked fresh
across lips and face

she binds me with the string of notes
she undoes with her hair
our bodies form an open altar
we worship with mysterious offerings
drawn from wells set deep within us

4

rain falls from the sky
Moon turns his face away
suddenly in darkened alleys
clouds hold hands and dance

dense streamers of light
dangle from street lamps
shadows remember their forgotten steps

gently she draws me to her
I try to follow
frail whirlpools of withered leaves
fragment weak sunshine
in light’s watery pool

5

her magic grows
I take my first step
an unmapped journey
into desert space

we move to old rhythms
across moon flecked clouds

raindrops fall more slowly
faltering drum beat
diminishing water

The Dancer 1&2 /11

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The Dancer and the Dance

 1

she comes here to dance for me
only for me does she dress this way

she shows me her dreams
unfolding them one by one
silk and cotton garments
drawn fresh from her scented closet

thin copper bracelets
carved wooden mask

only her eyes reveal
subversive flesh and blood

2

she orchestrates her story
skin drum
rattle of seeds in a sun-dried pod
single violin string
stretched across an armadillo’s shell

I too am tense like an instrument
waiting to be played

the bones of my love
reach out towards her