The Leather Tanner
Last night I had a dream
Of a man
Alone in the world,
Surrounded by dead,
Bodiless hides. The brown
Sky and the brown ground
I watched this man—
Made of the prairie clay
And grass, he seemed. And
Though he looked of the
Hideous land, there lived
Something beautiful in the dark
Creases of his eyes.
The words came.
Black, typed print that
Hovered about him, and flew
In the sky. I read them, and that is how
I found his story.
That is how I found
His black words of lament
Amassed to form pictures of color—
Of rich lands and purple and blue skies and bright stars.
The pictures flipped by like pages in a book—
Pages from his memory—all about the Indian woman.
These pictures were a screen
And the dusty man and dusty land hid behind.
The beautiful woman's hair, like a black smothering wave,
blotted out the stars. See this,
The Leather Tanner felt again his love for her
In his hollow chest
That her absence hollowed for him.
Here, is when her eyes met mine
And her own letters precipitated and formed words,
But I could not read them,
I did not have to.
I knew she had had to leave him
And cast him from those lands
But only a free woman will know why.
With the final image her lips parted as she dissolved
back into his words
that dissolved as well. He stood brittle and still in
The dust, as if dust himself. I prayed
That the wind would not come, for he looked
As if his particles would blow away. And yes—
All was still.
Until a shrill whistle sounded—
Up he stared at me—
Down came the wind and blew all away.
All of him,
For there really was nothing much to carry.
Everything spun and spun till everything had spun
Into a book.
I found myself in a rich green room
That I had never been in before--
Sitting in a chair with
A book pressed hard across my cheek—
With a pounding in a hollow chest.
And when I woke and felt my familiar bed, I felt
The hollowness was still there.