Sixteen Days

A woman in Hong Kong

Buys a lemon

Her hair is straight

And unperfumed

Held around her face

By a cheap plastic beret

Made

In Hong Kong

A source of pride

She also buys

A mango

Some rice

And a small bottle

Of rice wine

But it is

This lemon

That’s important

For the first day she will simply

Enjoy the smell of this lemon

And then

She will cut it

Into paper thin slices

For her tea

And collect the juice

For her hair and body

Because

The smell of this lemon

Will last

For days

And her husband

Likes the smell of lemon

In Amsterdam

Her daughter

Will sit

In a smoky bar

Her Mandarin cheekbones

Framed by fake blonde hair

And men from around the world

Will come and watch her

And when she goes home

Early in the morning

The only thing that will

Cut through the smell

Of smoke and whiskey

Will be

The juice of a lemon

She bought in town

Because it reminded her

Of her mother

To whom she has not spoken

In three years

Four months

And sixteen days

One man

Will see the young woman

And through mystical connections

Forgotten in the modern world

Be made to understand

The connections

And he will walk out

Into the clean air

For he cannot bear to

Watch these women

And the drunken fools braying at them

He will write it all down

And these images

Will haunt him for many days

And he will try to explain it

To those whom he loves

And some will understand

And others will not

But all of them

Will marvel

At this

And no one will ever

See a lemon

The same way again

Bill Fletcher / 2007 / Amsterdam

One thought on “Sixteen Days

  1. I like your lemon story. Or is it a poem? What makes a poem a poem? Did you just start writing and see how the story developed, or did you know what the story was going to be first?

    Liked by 1 person

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