Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Gift

by Len Kuntz

She would hang them on walls and doors
or lean pieces in metal easels,
so many of them that her work space looked disheveled
and cramped but always colorful,
radiating the rich hues of spices
she’d grown as a girl in India.

I laughed when my newlywed wife undid the bow, unwrapped the box.
A single platter?
Her grandmother was rich.
She knew politicians and peacemakers.
“But this is special,” my wife said,
and I laughed a second time.

Once I found the old woman in the garden,
arms outstretched,
fingers feeling for something in the wind.
When I tried to skip by
she said, “Stop, stop right there,”
even though she couldn’t have seen me behind her.
She told me to close my eyes.
“Come on, Come on.”
She said, Do you see it, all the beauty pressed beneath the spaces?
Do you see the things that fly?

My new bride placed the plate
in the kitchen of our first apartment
so that the painted goddess would stare at me if I washed a dish
or poured a glass of water.
Many times I considered breaking it over the faucet,
yet the plate traveled with us,
back and forth through every relocation.

Today we buried my wife’s grandmother.
A village of people attended, more than a thousand,
young and old, famous or not,
all mourning.
While my wife’s on the phone
I take the plate in my hands,
feeling the cool ceramic,
and even though my eyes are squeezed shut,
tears spill free,
watering blue daisy pots,
splashing billowed orange skirts,
pelting the gray-white plumage of geese as they
rise and fly.

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