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Buried Treasure

Returning from my morning walk
a small plain wicker basket left on the sidewalk
cream and brown, unassuming, smiles at me
and I, hesitate, reach out to gasp into it
—a world of gathered treasures gasps back at me
stones of every hue and nature
gray, red, ochre, speckled, heavy, hieroglyphic-inscribed
sheared, shapeless, fossil-embedded
notched, gnarled cabbage-like mementoes
of the first days of creation


One catches my eye and I lift it
a drab sandy exterior, shorn by unknown accident
discloses a paint box of winking universes
basalt clouds, quartz meteorites, suns, whirling comets
and hidden in its microscopic internal firmament
stars of every color, beckoning and blinking


Who could have left this unfinished world
on a sidewalk, catching a bus, caught up
in the flurry of it, looking back
somewhere in dismay?
Come, she says and takes my hand
there’s more, look!
and we walk the shores of an excavated
Roman amphitheatre, find seashells with stars
on them, two wafer-like stones, striated, light
as biscuits, a stone with a hole for a necklace,
a fragment of a water pitcher, ribbed, curved,
painted with ancient red and sky colored art
three filigree green-veined leaves
turning soft and darker as we watch them,
a snail’s home and a three eyed skull-like object
a piece of an extinct dinosaur?


Together yet apart we continue our walk,
she bare footed, clambering over the rocks,
school emblem embroidered on her thin-legged
swimsuit, returning now and then to show me
some new-found treasure


And I, on my way back home
look back at her, head full of memories, basket
in hand, to inscribe these words, somehow
preserve this precious meeting


Tomorrow I shall return the treasure
to its throne on the sidewalk, feeling
like an intruder with only a visitor’s
permit to a child’s world.

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© Johnmichael Simon



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