Welcome Home, Children
Before the Christmas lights along my street go up,
I gather together all the people I had been in past lives:
the Peruvian potato vendor, someone’s disfigured twin sister,
the red-headed young boy who had to push a dead deer off a cliff,
the gypsy who insists Transylvania contains no vampires,
the mermaid with feathered lashes, gladly soaking the upholstery,
the man who lived alone for months on end and doesn’t speak,
the bear hunter toting a semi-automatic, the bear.
By sundown, the food is laid out — the host gracious with wine,
the cheese, fruit. Meat as chunks of roasted animals, greenery.
They arrive in an uproar, some heading straight for the food
with mouths slack, eyes bright. Others are more delicate:
the 18th century Italian royalty pulls out a handkerchief
still scented with cologne, the mermaid looks discreetly away
from the salmon platter. The gypsy tucks his bare feet
underneath himself and proceeds to eat with his hands.
Only the twin without a twin remains standing, looking out
at the yard, thinking of having to return home without lights
to line her path. Who will open the door for her there?
What feast would be laid out for her hands, her scarred mouth?
after David Schumate