I loved my stained and smelly bathrobe as much as my scrap
of blanket that grandmother, showing mercy, would rescue
from the trash time after time. That summer the girl at Paso
Robles Park took me to meet her parents in their jalopy,
a cardboard suitcase roped on top. The mother nursed a baby.
Young as I was I understood their poverty. My friend introduced
them as royalty. I understood family then. Next summer in Fresno
I learned how chickens mate, and later about human sex, even
more weird. Feathers everywhere.
Life so overgrown, hard to remember only three years ago Queenie
clear sailing, with her long ivory cape streaming behind.
Her namesake: A Reina Santa Isabel, medieval Portugal, took bread
from the castle to feed the poor. Her husband, Dom Dinis, founded
the University where I studied in Coimbra, walking two miles up crooked
steps to school. He said to Isabel, "Open your cape," and out fell roses.
Queenie was magic too. When she floated by, the lotus bloomed.
Wise, she knew that the lotus flourishes only in filthy water
but one raccoon-masked night she disappeared. I grieved he took
the most majestic one. Bill said, "She was wild. You have to let her go."
Every morning she swam to meet me but now in the over growth
the fish open up like vacuum cleaners. They can't tell
if we're medievalist, icthyologist or raccoon. In this jungle
we're all reduced to bottom feeders.