Saturday, August 14, 2021

I Have Heard Tales

I have heard tales of a comet,
a feeding trough, and astrologers from Persia.
It is rumored they took a road trip,
opting for the scenic route to avoid the Gestapo.

There was a child, or so I was told,
who slid from a camel’s back
and gave his parents the slip
so he could audit a few courses in pre-law.

How strange. Afterwards, he disappeared
into the desert we all face—maybe it was a mirage—
where illusion and reality blur
into an impressionist painting of the human race.

This is the gossip making the rounds, mind you.
Next, his tongue, sharpened by stories
little more than flash fiction,
was muted when he took the stage

in a theater of the round,
his short soliloquies strangely absent.
The professors of pre-law were not amused
this time around. Stranger still.

The widow dressed in black
said that he climbed a tree and wouldn’t come down
until the sun took its curtain call
and the Richter scale caused the drapes to split.

He retired without the gold watch,
hung out the Gone Fishin’ sign,
and fed some sheep on a farm by the lake.
That was apparently the end—all she wrote,

as the saying goes. How strange.
At least, that’s how it was passed down to me,
though my neighbor says it’s a game of Kindergarten,
and the details are mostly degraded.

Still, a lot of people gather at the corner every week
to rehash the story and decide one way or another.
There’s no denying he’s a legend, larger than life,
though not so much in his hometown.

Rumor has it that he said as much himself.
So the story travels behind a comet’s tail
after all is said and done—
travels behind centuries grown younger

as the winter solstice freezes the sky every year.
Some say it’s just wishful thinking or a dream.
I don’t think so, though I must admit
it heals my heart every day before rising.

~William Hammett

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