The Trade

Sister, that silence you covet was bartered.
Long ago, I protected my cache in my only shawl
and went to the dark stall
                          at the farthest end of the marketplace
where torn dusty canopy shadowed the rack of colored vials.

I implored the red-eyed merchant
“I need clarity, something to calm me.”
He touched my cheek
With a long curled fingernail the color of dead grass.
I willed stillness. His scratchy “show me firsssst”
passed through lifeless lips.

I unveiled the wares in my shawl.
My jeweled toe rings that sparkled
against cinder trails.
The thin ropes of gold that encircled the path
from my heart to my head.
My wedding ring that trapped
endless memories of challenges and answers.

He mocked me “For thissss?”
and turned to  tap    tap    tap
               each vial.
He plucked that of clear dimpled glass
with an old finger bone stop
that kept its murky essence
from drifting into our world.

‘Under the pillow,” he prescribed,
“that forever rests your head only.
And you will know what you need.
Now give me what’s due.”

My pillow softly holds my dreams
             through thundering storms 
                     starry skies
                                  muggy emptiness
and covers the vial whose spell is complete.
I am alone.

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