24/03/2014

#poetry #poem #writer #religion #religious #fish #market

 In The Market
The tax collector's beadling stare pins me,
holds me. His sharp, hooked nose sniffs for coins.
He leans across the narrow slatted stall,
eyes twisting, as a bird, or a lizard
eager for more; fearing the prey will fly.
Six meager coins lay before him, his hand
gathers them up as he slides back from me.
His beard stinks of onions, and avarice.
He moves on. I swat a fly from a fish eye,
and smile engagingly at a soldier
who pauses to examine the paltry fish
left unsold, Their glass glazed expression,
milking inward, speaks of the rot begun.
The breeze carries the scent of evening bread.
I keep the best fish, throw the rest to dogs
in the innkeepers yard, pull eight bronze coins
from the chink in the wall, pay for the stall,
and prepare for home when I see a crowd
stood around the door of the doctor's.
The carpenter is there, sitting aloof,
as the people jostle, and push, to see
through the doorway, into the courtyard.
In his hand, he holds a stave, that he smooths
with a piece of glass, turning constantly
the wood, back and forward, thumb and fingers;
running the glass steadily up and down.
At his feet the stave's foot hollows a bowl
in the dust. From the courtyard drifts a voice.
A clear voice, baritone, lemon scented.
I have heard it before. The carpenter
lays the stave aside, stretches his left leg
and rises from the wall. It is then I see
the tax collector perched like an eagle
in the lower branches of a cedar;
spying into the courtyard down below.
My mother's neck is speckled with flour
as she takes the fish, lops the head, fries it.



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