CHANGELING

 
I.

We fought the flies all night
And the cold curare darts.

They kept flailing at us as we drove toward the statue
couched somewhere in the jungle brush:
a gray thing sprouting with moss and fungus
planted by some ancient tribe.

We drove and drove,
Pamela and I,
but no one knew how deep the thing lay nestled
in the mildewed forest,
with little but rumor to go on,
and a stinging rain overhead.

Flies make you crazy,
an endless confusion of bullets
fired out of the darkness.
You slap your face forever
but the bastard things keep coming,
and trees lean at you from every side,
while chimps hunch forward like
pretzled tourists
clamoring for a view.

II.

We started running in circles,
or so I thought.
The flies got thicker and thicker
till it seemed we mowed through a thicket of cloud.

I couldn't see straight, and the night crouched upon us
like a bloated tarantula whose
tree-branch legs
made disgusting flings at my girl.

Then all at once the night paused
in a pocket of silence where even the flies had ceased.
The blundering apes departed and
the hairy legs withdrew.

The silence was stunning and I almost rejoiced:
I thought we had reached a clearing.

But no.....
I looked around for Pamela
and she was gone, too.
In her place was a dumb gray figure,
an obscenity carved in stone.
Its mouth was slumping,
like the smile of a figure at Madam Tussaud's
on a boxed summer night,
and the car leaned crazily sideways
as the seat began to rip....

III.

I've got to get out of here,
screamed I to myself,
as the flies began returning
and the moon leaned down with a grin.

But I can't leave now ----
not with this changeling asleep in my car,
not with this ruptured upholstery,
and the gas tank nearly empty.....

I'll have to pack something,
A gun, a machete,
a frail supply of water and a coil of rope ----
I have to go forward,
I can't go back,
not with this mystery stabbing my brain,
and the flies pelting down like concussions.

Not without finding the dastardly tribe
that did this to my girl.
 

Copyright 1998 Paul Kesler
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