The God of Encounters

One cold night

after the open mics, and

high on song and poems,

we drove north on Clark

toward home when beside the street

a woman wavered

into traffic, shining and

thin as a sapling,

her jacket hanging like wilt

off her shoulders.

In the north

where we come from

there are myths, warnings

about such encounters,

how one must be aware:

watch your stuff,

watch your heart.

We stopped of course,

and she climbed in

told us where she wanted

to go, but wasn’t sure

how to get there, and being

new comers to the city,

neither were we,

and the address was nebulous,

changed often, a flower

dropping petals.

What should we say of the hour

we drove around with her,

her body weakening, dozing,

then starting up with a shout as though

half submerged in water,

half rising in flight,

now and then oracular

Find the green light.

Turn there. What should we say

of her sudden scream “Let me out,”

pounding the windows.

And so we pulled over.

I asked if she could find her home,

and she stared at us,

smiled then, and murmured

as a child would over a toy, soothing

a beloved thing:

Home. Home. Home.

And then, as though

in a dream, she wavered again,

backed away, faded into graffiti

and was gone. As though in a dream

we drove on, silent, heart-broken, thinking

not all the gods

are safe from us,

not all are safe at all.

Anne-Marie Oomen

Feast of Our Lady of the Assumption, Green Harbor Beach
The Baba Way