CASSANDRA IN FLORIDA
She is large, and largely immobile
and occupies the bench by the road
that encircles the property like a noose.
She does this each day, a crust
or more of stale bread tucked away
in a pocket of her always floral
housedress that envelopes her
and the bench she occupies
as a monarch on her throne.
The ibis see her coming and gather
at her feet like acolytes awaiting
words from their sage and goddess.
She doesn’t disappoint them, telling
them a tidbit of the world, more often
who was taken sick overnight, who
died yesterday, always a shock
she says, then whispers conspiratorially,
but actually expected, of course,
for everyone here has numbered days,
and then tells them stories of her life,
real and imagined, the veil between
her truth and her fiction now diaphanous.
They grow impatient, but a good queen
reads her subjects and reaches
into the pocket pulling out the crusty
bread, smiles at her flock, says see, I bring
manna and together we cross the desert.
She says her favorite month
is May, when spring’s grip
is tightest, but most of all
she cherishes the rain.
She is intimate with the rain,
there is a privacy that only
she can concede, if she wants.
She can take a drop of rain
and it is hers alone, she need
only share it with the sky,
it is always clean on her tongue.
She may borrow rain
from the trees, catch it
as it slides from leaves,
or watch it slowly tumble
from the eaves of the house
she remembers from childhood.
She loves walking barefoot
through fresh fallen puddles
as it washes bitter memories
into the willing earth.