Old Story

by Armand Garnet Ruffo
The story she tells spirals out a time before
your birth, before even hers.
An old story that sounds new, that rises
like the steam from both your cups,
yet has nothing to do with cracked cups,
unmatched plates, half bottles of rye,
National Enquirer in the outhouse,
flies sneaking in through holes in the screen,
lumber picked up along the roadside and
banged together, beer bottles,
and ashtrays full of butts.

Nothing to do with that, the thing
that rises like night, like water
from deep in remembered earth
out of forgotten memory.
The thing that sounds like coming rain
and makes eyes blink round when wind creaks
through houses and old timber tells
of an older life, a path bordered by jackpine
and birch leading down to Misshipeshu of the lake,
emerald eyes and skin of gold scales, a path
to red snake, black pike and family.

Come. Under this star blanket, splinter of moon,
her voice guides your footsteps along islands
of solid earth. Where are you going?
She says to the dream where else. To the part
that must be found out, where one day
you can return on your own.
(Does she actually say this
or are you now just dreaming?)
And almost as soon as she begins you are back
at the kitchen table, your hand
gripped to a cold cup of tea, the clock
hitting suppertime.

From Opening in the Sky, Theytus Books.

© 1994 Armand Garnet Ruffo

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