Last Time I Looked for Her
Face wrinkled as old paper, parchment
skin of the lamb from tribal wanderings across time.
No tent but she was camped
with her small cart in front of the library.
She waved aside the offered dollar.
Tiny lady, does she live on celery and saltines?
She told me sotto voce, she was ghost-
pen for a rich Chinese gentleman until his story ran out.
Repository of histories
calligraphy on the page and in her mind –
adventurers and refugees, odysseys and alphabets
across continents and oceans.
Who were her people? as if land or borders
could contain language and legend.
Her war-worn face bright-dark.
Tapestried tales in a thrift-store scarf.
A page of characters I couldn’t read, so she sang them
birdlike, a cappella but for the spirits in her head.
The last time I looked for her
she was gone.