In Which of
In which of my previous lives did I know you best?
It may have been when I was King of Peru and sat
on a stone bench, my face a mask of polished lies.
You would have walked out of the jungle then,
more jaguar than woman, with your tongue on fire,
handful of grass in your sinewy hand. I might have
climbed down the steps of my pyramid or watched you
feed serpents in the dark, your golden eyes sparking
magic through the folds of their green shapes.
Or it may have been when we lived in the skies, sea
plovers hunting for fish and squid.
I remember my wings, those webs of hollow bone,
and my hunger and the rippling waves.
Or when we worked in the mines, our backs strong
and our faces always smudged and stained with sweat.
I remember the weight of my ax, the satisfying smack
when its point broke through veins of coal, cool scent
of slate and rock and the joy of water spilling
on our faces in the afternoons.
You were a dog once, I recall, and I your rubber toy.
You buried me so deep in the high grass I thought
I left my body and found the chambers of the dead.
And then I was a ginger cat, my white face scratched
and scarred and you were soft fingers through my fur,
a leg against which to rub my tired head, and for my rough
tongue, still tasting blood, sweet livers and a foaming bowl of milk.