They were powerful, epic stories,
told in tall block letters gilded with gold.
With the those fireworks in our eyes,
we did not notice the life and death
filled jungle looming behind us.
We studied the dances, practiced the
patterns, the tilt of the head, steps
in sequence, shoulders back, until
finally, we cross-tied our satin shoes
and took the stage, mimic perfect,
dancing the first phrase on repeat.
She smiled for her graduation picture,
despite the blisters on her heels, the
ill-fitting dress, her mind elsewhere.
(Those steady dark eyes, the swirl of
the unknown, fear braided with desire.)
A step back, a pounding heart, a turn;
then straight round on the paved road.
The air is pungent with pine sap as,
following deer paths, she makes her
way through morning stillness to the river.
She is thirsty and stares across the mist.
Sadly, she has lost her language.
Coming to the water, she sees movement
in the shadows, and finds an amber
gem on a cord, lying at the water's edge.