Four Way Books

The Rules Of Paradise
by D. Nurkse

ISBN: 1-884800-38-6
paper, 88 pages, $13.95

A man walks a dusty road
dragging a suitcase.
Sometimes he looks back
and sees a shallow rut
wavering beside his footprints.
A dog howls behind a fence.
The man stops and says: shush.
The dog shuts up.
It has never heard such longing.
Olmos: the first border village.
The guards are sitting on barrels,
playing with creased cards.
My father has brought them
grandmother's lace, a pocket watch,
the locket with the child's tresses,
the diary locked with a gold key.
The visors evaluate these souvenirs
with one eye on their cards.
Olmos: a cider mill,
a tavern, a few porches.
A girl on a swing
watches my father
severely from several heights.
Suddenly she scuffs her heels
and runs through a red gate.
A man comes out—a real father—
and stares at the stranger
and spits: Nothing,
and shouts back at the cinched curtain:
Nothing to be afraid of.
Through the half-shut kitchen door
the smell of bread
reaches like a hand
that will mould me out of ashes.