Friday, March 13, 2015

Rose Mary Boehm - The Cretan Witch / Dover to Canterbury

The Cretan Witch

Zene was born on Crete. The sailor
Dimitris had brought her to Cyprus, his earth.
In the village they all recognized her for what she was.
Had she not plucked Phokas’ son from certain death?
Next she’d danced. An offering to the old gods.
When young Yorgos made eyes at her daughter,
Zene had looked at him. When he died of the fever,
she had picked up a chicken by the neck, sliced off
its head with the knife she always carried
in her apron’s pocket, and bathed her
wooden doorstep in the gushing blood.
Soon Zene's beautiful daughter just faded away.

Today she wears the big black dress made from silk
for the holy day when they remember
the dead. Tables bend under the weight
of kolifa, haloumi and black olives.
Today is the day of All Souls.

Dover to Canterbury

We'll soon pass the spot where I
see her every time. Not once has she missed.
Started to call her Emma.

The rain whips against
smeared windows. I strain
to peer into the night.

Perhaps she had bathed in
the arrogance of wealth,
the handsomeness of knowing
her place. Couldn't have been
more than about twenty-five.

One day I ask in the pub.
Drive to the estate.
The manor and grounds hidden
behind a gnarled, leafless overgrowth.
Scale the crumbling wall.

An anemic light from a dying
autumn moon haloes a woman. I follow.
Her long hair barely catches the weak light.

Her white gown billowing in the breeze
she hovers near the train lines.
Sparks spew into thick black.

A locomotive riots closer and bucks
when brakes screech it to a sudden
halt. In glowing white a woman
lies under the unforgiving wheels.

I tried to rescue her one hundred years
too late. But she knew I was watching.

A German-born UK national, Rose Mary Boehm lives and works in Lima, Peru. Author of TANGENTS, a poetry collection published in the UK in 2010/2011, her recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in a good two dozen US poetry reviews (online and print).

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