The Ancient Modern

Another Dream of Yellow Millet  /  Joshua Alan Sturgill

from the music of simmering
and the meticulous caress 
of fragrant grain, I was led out

from the wilderness
to a lively restaurant
in the busier quarters of the city.
Such people!  Such food!  Such light!

Men with beautiful bodies, 
tall women, well-groomed.  And envy came
and tempted me to stay and talk
and be welcomed. A screen

high up on a wall
showed images of adventure, inviting me 
to throw myself down 
into chance and daring. I saw

rows and rows of spices,
all the spices of the world and their flavors.  
I wondered why should I be satisfied 
with millet?  I conceived

a desire to leave my home and be embraced 
by spices, to command worshipful admiration,
to test my body with novelty.
A terrible choice!  But a remembrance

came quietly: where is death?  Death is here, 
unacknowledged.  I closed my eyes 
and looked again. And I saw: death
hiding in ecstasy. Then

in my dream I found a door:
           To be known, not observed
           To have a center, unhurried
           To choose instead of spices 

the humility of salt.  And I woke, 
the millet just tender.  And I ate.
And after, I rinsed the kettle
and brewed a cup of tea

All poetry and supplementary material: copyright 2021 by Joshua Alan Sturgill. All rights reserved.

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